Draft Minutes of the June 12, 2017 Water Authority Meeting
Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority
1649 Route 12, Gales Ferry, CT
Authority: Chairman Edward Monahan, Treasurer Paul Eccard, Barbara Lee Franciosi, Peter Balestracci, Nicholas Mullane, and Michael O’Connor.
Authority Staff: General Manager Josh Cansler
Call to Order
Chairman Monahan called the meeting to order at approximately 5:16 p.m.
Approval of Prior Minutes
On a motion of Mr. Eccard, seconded by Mr. Balestracci, the Authority approved the minutes of the May 8, 2017 Water Authority Meeting, by a unanimous vote of all members present.
Public Comment on any Item on the Agenda – None
Correspondence – None
General Manager’s Report
1. Draft FY 2018 SCWA Budget
(Attachment #1: FY 2018 SCWA draft budget)
The Authority Finance Committee met on May 8, 2017 to discuss the FY 2018 SCWA draft budget. Finance Committee members present were Paul Eccard, Edward Monahan, and Nick Mullane. Also present at the meeting were General Manager Josh Cansler, and SCWA Financial Consultant Andrew Potochney. The committee voted to endorse the draft FY 2018 budget; and to present the budget at the June 12, 2017 Authority meeting.
General Manager Cansler presented the draft budget to the full Authority, first discussing the general budget, and then the capital improvements budget. During discussion of the budget Mr. Cansler highlighted areas of significant changes from last year’s budget, to include:
a. Revenues were much higher than anticipated, primarily as a result of the hot, dry, summer last year. Since last summer was an anomaly, SCWA cannot count on the higher revenues in FY 2018.
b. Cost of electricity dropped for the second straight year. The FY 2018 draft budget reflects the lower anticipated costs, a decrease of $16,400 from the FY 2017 budget.
c. Cost of Chemical Treatments, and Testing/Analysis of water, increased significantly because of the increased cost of chemicals, and an increase in the number of samples required.
d. Maintenance of distribution lines, water mains, and service lines has gone up 50% over the past 10 years, and based on the age of the lines and mains, the General Manager does not expect these maintenance costs to decrease. The total increase for these three line items is approximately $47,000 from last year’s budget estimate.
e. Budgeted Administrative and Office Expenses decreased slightly from last year’s budget. In addition SCWA does not intend to retain the services of a consultant to prepare the budget for next year. The General Manager will prepare the draft budget in future years.
f. Based on the difference between expected revenue versus estimated expenses, the SCWA Finance Committee and the General Manager recommend a 5% rate increase to cover the shortfall. SCWA has not had a rate increase in two years. SCWA bylaws require the Authority to notify the Representative Advisory Board (RAB) of their intent to raise rates. The RAB is required to conduct a public hearing on the proposed rates within 30 days of being notified. Based on advice and comments by the RAB, the Authority votes on approval or disapproval of the proposed rate increase.
g. Several new items were added to the SCWA Capital Program, in addition to the projects that were not completed due to lack of funding in FY17. These include new roofs on the Montville pump station/tank facility, and the Birchwood pump station. After some discussion regarding the format of the capital program, General Manager Cansler stated that he would develop a new format for both the budget and Capital Program for FY 2019. Mr. Eccard made a motion to promote, and support, a revised annual budget format, in coordination with the new SCWA auditor. This motion, seconded by Mr. Mullane, passed by a vote of 6-0.
Mr. Eccard made a motion to adopt the draft Fiscal Year 2018 budget, as presented, for a total of $1,576,400. This motion, seconded by Mr. Mullane, passed by a vote of 6-0.
Mr. Eccard made a motion that the Authority notify the Representative Advisory Board (RAB) of its intention to increase service rates during FY 2018. This motion, seconded by Mr. Balestracci, passed by a vote of 6-0.
2. Board Member Appointments and Positions
The terms for the Authority offices of Vice-Chairman, Treasurer, and Secretary are one-year, and will expire on June 30, 2017. Mr. Balestracci made a motion to keep the same people in the same positions for another year. This motion, which was seconded by Ms. Franciosi, passed by a vote of 6-0. As a result of this vote Mr. Watson (Vice-Chairman), Mr. Eccard (Treasurer), and Mr. Cansler (Secretary) will each serve another year in their current Authority offices.
3. Emergency Interconnections/Regionalization Planning
(Attachment #2: May 11, 2017 Letter from SCWA Chairman to Lori Mathieu (DPH)
Lori Mathieu (Chief, DPH Drinking Water Section), and Cam Walden (DPH Drinking Water Section, Supervisory Engineer), attended the May 8, 2017 Authority meeting to explain the $15 million DWSRF funding package that DPH is providing Groton Utilities to support replacement of their water treatment plant. As part of the funding package Groton Utilities will install several emergency water main interconnections with other water utilities in the region, to include SCWA. This includes interconnections between the five SCWA Ledyard divisions, and the Ledyard WPCA system.
Ms. Mathieu also opened the discussion up to the possibility of long-term regional consolidation planning. After discussion back and forth, the Authority indicated they might support long-term regional planning, as long as it was done through a thoughtful planning process, and with the understanding that SCWA customers were not negatively impacted. Chairman Monahan stated the Authority’s concerns of losing part of our customer base, which would leave SCWA in a financially untenable situation. Ms. Mathieu said DPH was drafting a Consent Agreement to get the planning process started, but she added, the language of the agreement was negotiable.
At the end of the discussion with DPH, the Authority voted to authorize the Chairman, in coordination with legal counsel, to prepare and sign a letter on behalf of the Authority, stating the members were comfortable with supporting regional water planning efforts in Southeastern Connecticut. This letter was provided to Ms. Mathieu on May 11, 2017, prior to a hearing before the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) State Bond Commission on May 12th regarding grant-in-aid for the Groton Utilities plant upgrade and emergency interconnections projects.
General Manager Cansler stated that to date he has not heard anything from DPH regarding approval of the grant-in-aid for Groton Utilities or the Consent Agreement, but that he would reach out to DPH to get an update.
4. Extension of Services on Fairway Drive/Thames Aquatic Center –Ledyard
SCWA continues to work with the Town of Ledyard, and the Ledyard WPCA, regarding support of the proposed Thames Aquatic Center project, as well as the proposed extension of Fairway Drive in Ledyard Center; both of which are in the SCWA Exclusive Service Area. Although SCWA had proposed alternatives to provide water from our Ledyard Center system, the developer requested approval from DPH to install a well on the proposed site. In April 2017 DPH granted approval of the well, with the stipulation that the Aquatic Center connect to the water main on Fairway Drive extension, once it is installed, and that the Aquatic Center use SCWA for all required testing and monitoring of the well. Mr. Cansler said that there has not been any signs of construction, or well drilling, at the proposed Aquatic Center site to date.
5. DWSRF Call for Projects
The State DPH Drinking Water Section issued a call for future DWSRF projects in Mid-February, with a submittal date of April 28, 2017. Financing through the DWSRF includes a low-interest loan with the potential for subsidization for eligible projects in the form of principal forgiveness to the extent allowed by Federal and/or State law. SCWA submitted application packages and concept designs for three projects, and DPH has acknowledged receipt of the applications. General Manager Cansler stated that he has discussed the three projects with DPH, and feels they have a good chance of scoring high and possibly receiving funding.
6. DWSRF Emergency Generator Program
Through the DPH Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) program, SCWA received approval for three emergency generator projects. This program provides a 45% grant for new generators, a 25% grant for replacement of old generators, and no interest loans for the remaining costs. After going through a public bidding process, the Authority approved acceptance of the low bids, from qualified contractors. In May SCWA received environmental approvals from DEEP for each of the three projects, and on June 1, 2017 contracts were awarded for all three projects.
7. Water Supply Plan
Per the terms of the September 2015 Consent Agreement with DPH, SCWA is required to submit an updated Water Supply Plan to DPH no later than January 1, 2018. After soliciting bids from several engineering firms that are experienced with the development of Water Supply Plans in the State of Connecticut, the Authority awarded preparation of the updated SCWA Water Supply Plan to Lenard Engineering, based on price and experience with SCWA systems. The General Manager and Lenard Engineering meet monthly to consolidate and review data required in the updated Water Supply Plan.
8. Montville Storage Tank
At the February 13, 2017 meeting the Authority approved the General Manager’s recommendation to repair the roof of the Montville 50,000 gallon atmospheric storage tank immediately. This particular tank is an open top rectangular concrete tank that is fitted with a wood-framed asphalt shingled roof. During an inspection of the tank last fall, which is required every 10 years, the inspector recommended immediate repairs to the roof of the tank. Mr. Cansler said that SCWA has ordered the materials for this tank, and will begin demolition and replacement of the roof in mid-June.
9. Trailer-mounted Mobile Pump Station Project
This past fall SCWA has started construction of a trailer-mounted pump station that can be used to operate our regular pump stations during renovation projects, and/or emergency repairs. Work has progressed on the mobile pump station, as time has allowed, between routine checks/maintenance and emergency repairs of mains, wells, and pump stations. All of the plumbing, and most of the electrical panels and wiring have been assembled and installed. We are currently awaiting a few remaining electrical components, before testing the system. Mr. Cansler stated that one of the SCWA certified operators has recently undergone two serious surgeries, and was going to be out for an extended period of time. As a result of the field staffing shortage, we have not been able to dedicate the needed time to complete this project.
10. Montville Oakdale Elementary School Water Supply
In 2015 the Authority approved supporting the Montville Oakdale Elementary School either as a primary and/or back-up water provider. The school currently operates off of an on-site well system. A cost agreement that was satisfactory for both parties was agreed upon in December 2016. SCWA has not heard back from Montville schools regarding approval of funding by their Finance Committee.
11. Town of North Stonington - New Center for Emergency Services/Water Main Extension
The Town of North Stonington is constructing a new Center for Emergency Services, which also involves extending the North Stonington water distribution system 1500 feet. SCWA continues to work with the Town and Engineer Firms, as needed, to assist with planning the main extension and emergency center water system. Mr. Mullane stated that the bidding process was complete and that the State was supporting their bid selection. He anticipates the project starting in August.
12. Town of North Stonington School Upgrade Project
SCWA has been working with the Design/Engineer Firm, as needed, to assist with the initial engineering and design of a project to renovate existing facilities, and construct some additions, to the Town of North Stonington Elementary School and Middle/High School. At the May 8, 2017 Authority meeting, Mr. Mullane indicated the project could be at risk as a result of potential cuts to state allocations for schools statewide in the pending State Budget. At this meeting, Mr. Mullane said that although the State budget has not been worked out, the Town is moving forward with this project, for now.
13. Notice of Closure of all SCWA Bank Accounts
(Attachment #3: May 15, 2017 Letter from Bank of America, RE: Notice of Closure of your Bank of America, N.A. Accounts and Termination of Treasury Services)
On May 15, 2017 SCWA received a Letter from Bank of America announcing closure of all our current bank accounts, effective August 15, 2017. No reason was given. General Manager Cansler called the point of contact for the letter, and was told that this decision “had nothing to do with SCWA’s business practices, but just the way that Bank of America was managing accounts in the future”. After some discussion regarding a new bank, Mr. Cansler said he would visit three local banks and/or credit unions, and present his findings at the July Authority meeting.
14. Regional Considerations
a) Update on Miller’s Pond, Waterford
On March 31st, the SCWA Miller’s Pond sub-committee (Dr. Monahan, Mr. Eccard, and Ms. Franciosi) met with Mr. Rob Schacht, who is representing the family that owns Miller’s Pond, in Waterford. The Schacht family has in the past offered SCWA the opportunity to purchase Miller’s Pond. Mr. Schacht gave a background on the history of the pond, and stated that their preference was still to sell the pond to an entity that would use the pond as a water resource. He stated that the Schacht family intended to advertise sale of the pond worldwide. In May, the Schacht family reached out to Authority member Paul Eccard again, and requested to meet with the Authority and/or the SCWA Miller’s Pond sub-committee sometime in July. Mr. Eccard recommended that they ask the Schacht’s to meet with the entire Authority at the beginning of the July Authority meeting, scheduled for July 10, 2017. The Authority agreed that this was a good idea, and Mr. Eccard stated that he would reach out to the Schacht family about the proposed meeting date.
b) Drought Update
On May 8, 2017 the Connecticut Interagency Drought Workgroup announced that Drought Watch affecting 6 counties was terminated, however a lower-level Drought Advisory remains in effect for all of the state’s eight counties. The State has determined that while precipitation has improved over the last several months, streamflow and groundwater levels have demonstrated some volatility, and remain vulnerable. General Manager Cansler said that since New London County was one of the two counties under a Drought Advisory already, this change had no impact on SCWA.
c) State Water Plan and Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCC):
The State of Connecticut is currently in the process of developing a State Water Plan for the management of water resources within the state. In conjunction with State Water Plan, DPH has coordinated the activities of the three Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCCs). The Eastern Connecticut WUCC member meetings are held at 1 p.m. every second Wednesday of the month, at either the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG) offices in Norwich, or the Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (NECCOG) offices in Killingly. These meetings are open to the public. At the May meeting, the Authority approved the Statements of Confirmation for the SCWA Exclusive Service Areas (ESA’s), and authorized the General Manager to sign the Statements of Confirmation on behalf of the Authority. The signed Statements were submitted to the Eastern WUCC on May 10, 2017, and acknowledged the same day. Chairman Monahan stated that the Town of Ledyard had approved the Statements of Confirmation for their ESAs as well. He provided a copy of the ESA map they had approved, which agreed with SCWA’s ESA boundaries with Ledyard.
d) SCWA Interaction with the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG). Chairman Monahan periodically attends the regular monthly SCCOG meetings.
e) SCCOG Regional Water Committee’s Technical Advisory Subcommittee (TAS). SCWA staff participate on the SCCOG Regional Water Committee’s Technical Advisory Subcommittee.
Mr. Eccard mentioned that Authority member Harry Watson’s mother passed away recently. Mr. Eccard suggested that SCWA send a condolence card. It was agreed that Chairman Monahan should sign the card on behalf of SCWA.
Report from Chairman - None
Report from Authority Members
Ms. Franciosi stated that had she is a member of the New London Garden Club. She said that she is working on a presentation for an upcoming annual meeting. The theme is “Water for the Future”.
Public Comment – None
On motion of Mr. Eccard, seconded by Ms. Franciosi, the Authority voted to adjourn the meeting at approximately 7:23 p.m.
It was noted the next Authority meeting is scheduled to occur on July 10, 2017, 5:15 p.m. at
1649 Rt. 12, Gales Ferry, CT.
Joseph C. Cansler Secretary