Minutes of the May 18, 2015 Water Authority Meeting

Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority

1649 Route 12, Gales Ferry, CT

 

 

Present

Authority: Vice-Chairman Watson, Treasurer Eccard, Member Franciosi, Member Balestracci, and Member O’Connor

 

Authority Staff: General Manager Cansler

 

Vice-Chairman Watson, acting on behalf of Chairman Monahan, called the meeting to order at approximately 5:15 p.m.

 

Approval of Prior Minutes

On a motion of Mr. Eccard, seconded by Mr. Balestracci, the Authority approved the minutes of the

April 27, 2015 Water Authority Meeting.

 

Public Comment on any Item on the Agenda – None

 

Correspondence – Mr. Cansler referred to a letter that was sent to several Authority Board members from the accounting firm of Hope & Hernandez, P.C. soliciting future auditing services.

 

General Manager’s Report

 

Item 1. Draft FY 2016 SCWA Budget

Attachment: Draft FY 2016 SCWA budget

Mr. Eccard (member of the SCWA Water Authority Finance committee) and Mr. Cansler (SCWA General Manager), presented the draft FY 2016 SCWA Operating Budget to the rest of the Water Authority members. Mr. Eccard stated that the Finance Committee supported a proposed 5% rate increase during FY16, to balance the budget. This is the first proposed rate increase in three years. Mr. Eccard also pointed out there is average 2.5% cost of living salary increase proposed in the budget. Mr. Cansler said that new personnel who started during FY15 would have their 2.5% increase prorated depending on how many months they have worked by the beginning of the new FY. He also stated that the two field staff that are not certified would receive incentive raises based on passing their operator certifications, in lieu of a 2.5% cost of living raise. If they passed both examinations their incentive raises would roughly equal 2.5%. Mr. Cansler stated that most of the FY16 budget line items stayed the same, or increased only slightly, with the exception of the following line items:

a) Cost of Electrical Power increased almost 15% in FY15, and the FY16 budget proposal reflected the same percentage increase. SCWA is going to pursue relief from our current electrical locked-in rates to take advantage of expected electrical cost decreases this year.

b) Cost of Testing and Analysis went back up to rates previously used by SCWA. For the past two years SCWA was able to use a State Testing/Analysis Contract, which had somewhat lower rates. Unfortunately that contract has expired.

c) Maintenance Services line item has increased 50% so far in FY15, due to an excessive number of water main breaks. The FY16 budget reflects a 30% increase over the FY15 budget for this particular line item in an effort to more accurately represent the anticipated costs going forward.

d) Legal Costs are expected to decease this year with the anticipated closure of the larceny case against a former SCWA employee.

 

Overall, the FY16 budget is approximately $45,000 more than the FY15 budget. One question that came up was regarding the proposed Capital Plan. Mr. Cansler stated that he intended to present the Capital Plan at the next Water Authority meeting. Based on discussion of the Authority Mr. Cansler said that he would try to present the Capital Plan in conjunction with future draft budgets.

 

On a motion of Mr. Eccard, seconded by Mr. Balestracci, the Authority, by a unanimous vote of all members present, voted to approve the FY 2016 SCWA Operating Budget as presented.

 

Item 2. Regional Considerations

The Authority has been involved with or otherwise engaged in various regional items, including:

a) Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCC).

Mr. Cansler stated that there is no update regarding the SCCOG request to the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) to convene the Eastern management area WUCC first. SCWA submitted a letter to the SCCOG Chairman offering support of SCCOG’s efforts to persuade DPH to alter the sequence of convening the WUCC in the State’s three public water supply management areas.

b) SCWA Interaction with SCCOG

Chairman Monahan periodically attends the regular monthly SCCOG meetings. The last SCCOG Regional Water Committee meeting was April 15, 2015, and was attended by Chairman Monahan.

c) SCCOG Regional Water Committee’s Technical Advisory Subcommittee (TAS).

SCWA staff has been participating on the SCCOG Regional Water Committee’s Technical Advisory Subcommittee (TAS). Mr. Cansler stated that there was not a TAS meeting last month.

 

Item 3. Capital Projects

 

* Lantern Hill Division Pumping Evaluation/Upgrade- Mr. Cansler stated he met with Jim Ericson of Lenard Engineering to discuss what upgrades are required. They prepared an estimate for the cost of the proposed upgrades, to include design/engineering fees. Mr. Cansler stated he was going to look at other alternatives to upgrading the system, and then do a cost analysis.

* Cedar Ridge Division Pumphouse, Elimination of “Confined Space”. (Note: All OSHA requirements and best management safety practices are being followed pending elimination of the confined space). SCWA staff met with Jim Ericson of Lenard Engineering to discuss the plans/specs which are several years old. Mr. Cansler recommended several changes to the plans to possibly reduce costs, and better accommodate access if/when a pump has to be replaced or repaired. Lenard is preparing updated plans/specs and a new cost estimate, which should be complete by the end of May.

* Tower Division Eagle Ridge Booster Station Evaluation/Upgrade- Tank bypass is working. SCWA staff will monitor, and pursue tank replacement as long-term project.

 

 

 

 

Item 4. DWSRF Emergency Generator Program

SCWA is preparing spec/procurement documents to request bids for three (3) generators at Montville, Chesterfield, and Tower-Ferry View locations. Once bids are received SCWA will submit bids to the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) to request funding through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). SCWA has already received approval of a 45% subsidy grant for a new generator at Tower-Ferry View, and a 25% subsidy for each replacement generator at Montville and Chesterfield.

 

Item 5. Long Cove Rd., Gales Ferry – Proposed Development

SCWA staff met with a developer last June to discuss the possibility of a proposed new residential development in Ledyard receiving water service from SCWA. There has not been any recent discussion regarding SCWA service to this proposed new development.

 

Item 6. Town of Preston – Public Water Assistance Request

At the March 16th, 2015 Water Authority Board meeting, the Authority Board approved the final draft of the “Addendum To The Operating & Monitoring Agreement” between the Town of Preston and the Water Authority. Purpose of the Addendum was to establish a methodology for SCWA support to two off-site, non-municipal customers as part of the Monitoring Agreement. This Agreement authorizes SCWA to serve as the contract water service operator for the Town of Preston, operating several public water supply systems, including the system at the Preston Veterans Memorial School. Mr. Cansler is coordinating with the Town of Preston to schedule a time to finalize the agreement.

 

Item 7. Town of North Stonington - New Center for Emergency Services

The Town of North Stonington is constructing a new Center for Emergency Services. To support the new facility the Town has been awarded a Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant of $245,400, from the State of Connecticut, to extend SCWA’s water distribution system. The grant will be used to extend the water main further into the Town Center, and to the new Center for Emergency Services. The project will require the installation of 1500 feet of water main. SCWA has been working with the Design/Engineer Firm to assist with planning the main extension and Emergency Center water system. Mr. Cansler is also working with the A/E firm to determine the meter size, meter pit requirements, and system development/connection fees.

 

Item 8. Montville High School Water Supply

The Town of Montville has engaged in a series of public information meetings to discuss extending the Town’s water system to the Montville High School to address a water quality problem. In 2013 SCWA provided a cost estimate of $53,000, in response to the Town’s inquiry, to serve the school with the SCWA Chesterfield Division. According to a news article in the January 6, 2015 edition of The Day, the Montville WPCA will resume the informational meetings in the spring.

 

Item 9. Montville Oakdale Elementary School Water Supply

SCWA received a letter from the new Superintendent of Montville schools on April 28, 2015. They have indicated they are interested in connecting the Oakdale Elementary School to the Montville Manor division for backup/emergency purposes. Mr. Cansler met with Superintendent Levesque on May 7th to discuss this opportunity. Mr. Cansler indicated that SCWA would be interested in providing backup/emergency supply to Oakdale School. There was also discussion of SCWA being the primary provider of water to the school, which the School District is interested in. Mr. Cansler recommended to the Authority Board to move forward with supporting the Oakdale Elementary School as a regular customer. On a motion of Mr. Eccard, seconded by Mr. Balestracci, the Authority, by a unanimous vote of all members present, voted to allow Oakdale School to be added to the SCWA system.

 

Item 10. North Stonington – Water Line Easement

There has not been any recent developments regarding this legal issue concerning a property in North Stonington where the owner has stated that SCWA did not obtain or file the necessary property easements for a water main that was installed by a hotel developer in 2007. On June 24, 2014, SCWA staff and Attorney Kepple met with the property owner and his attorney, as well as the attorney for the hotel developer. Mr. Cansler met with Attorney Kepple on April 29th to discuss this issue. Mr. Kepple has not heard anything since the meeting last July.

 

Item 11. Electronic Billing and Payment

At the April 6, 2015 meeting the Authority authorized SCWA to upgrade our billing software to allow customers to pay via credit card electronically (internet), in person, or by phone. Software upgrades will include the option to allow customers to receive their bills electronically (e-billing). Download of new software occurred during the first two weeks in May. Mr. Cansler stated that SCWA is working with the bank to institute online bill pay, and that the new billing system should be fully online by June billing.

 

Item 12. SCWA Financial Statements – Third Quarter FY 2015

At the last meeting, on April 27, 2015, the Authority reviewed the FY 2015 second quarter financial statements. Several questions were raised regarding certain line items on the Financial Statement.

Mr. Cansler provided the following information in response to the questions raised:

 

* Regarding the question about why the “Admin Travel & Miscellaneous” line item under the Administrative Expenses category was much higher than budgeted; Mr. Cansler verified that the higher than normal expenditures were due to classified ad fees incurred as a result of advertising four times during this budget year for vacancies. Each advertisement in the classified section of the local paper costs a minimum of $500. In the case of the General Manager position SCWA also advertised through AWWA (American Water Works Association).

* There was a question about why there were two line items that seemed to be the same; “Authority Member Fees” under the Administrative Expenses section, and “Authority Member Fees” under the Statutory Regional Expenses section. The reason for this is 60% of Authority member stipends are allocated under the “Statutory Regional Expenses” section, and 40% of their fees are allocated under the “Authority Member Fees”. The member travel expenses are allocated 60/40 the same way under the same two sections.

* Regarding the line item about Rental Space, under the Administrative Expenses section; this refers to the additional storage space SCWA leases for recordkeeping. The increased FY15 expenditures is simply the product of increased rental fees this year.

* Several members asked if they should be concerned about the $122,073.71 “Surplus Deficit” under the Operating Surplus Adjustments section. This number represents a running total of the excess of running expenses over revenue since inception. Most of this write-off loss is the result of write-off of meters as they were replaced and standardized across the SCWA service area. This does not represent a monetary deficit that SCWA has to pay off at some point.

 

 

 

 

 

Item 13. Vehicle Purchase

The SCWA Fiscal Year 2015 Capital Program includes the acquisition of a two service pickup trucks. One truck is a 2010 Ford F250 with over 148,000 miles. The other truck is a 2005 Ford Ranger pickup truck with over 100,000 miles. In April, Mr. Cansler requested bids for three different American made trucks (Ford/Chevrolet/Dodge) from dealers under the Connecticut State Contract for purchase of Trucks and Vehicles. For the 2010 F250 replacement truck, SCWA requested separate add/alternate bids for the amber responder light and the truck cap.

 

a) To replace the 2005 Ford Ranger, three (3) State Contract bids were received:

 

Dealer Vehicle Bid

Crowley Ford 2015 Ford F150 $26,793.13

Plainville, CT Super Cab 4x4

 

Northwest Hills 2015 Chevrolet Silverado $27,239.00

Torrington, CT 1500 Extended Cab 4x4

 

Northwest Hills 2015 Dodge Ram $27,490.00

Torrington, CT 1500 Quad Cab 4x4

 

b) To replace the 2010 Ford F250, three (3) State Contract bids were received:

 

Dealer Vehicle Bid

Crowley Ford 2015 Ford $23,572.44

Plainville, CT F250 4x4 (add $948 amber light)

(add $2900 truck cap)

 

Northwest Hills 2015 Chevrolet $26,916.00

Torrington, CT Silverado 2500 4x4 (add $1800 amber light)

(add $2900 truck cap)

 

Northwest Hills 2015 Dodge $27,955.00

Torrington, CT Ram 2500 4x4 (add $1800 amber light)

(add $2900 truck cap)

 

Mr. Cansler stated that he had reviewed the bids, and that all of the bids met the minimum requested specifications. He recommended that the Authority purchase the new trucks from the lowest bidder under each category. On a motion of Mr. Eccard, seconded by Mr. O’Conner, the Authority, by a unanimous vote of all members present, voted to purchase the 2015 Ford F150 from Crowley Ford at a cost of $26,793.13, and the 2010 Ford F250 from Crowley Ford for a cost of $23,572.44.

 

Item 14. New Website

Mr. Cansler announced that the SCWA Website has been modified and switched over to a new web provider, with slightly lower monthly fees. The new website still has some parts under construction. The new website includes a “Pay Bill Online” tab which will be fully functional once the new billing software is completely in place. The web address is still the same; www.waterauthority.org. Our next goal is to create a Facebook page, which will link to our website

 

 

Other Business - None

 

Report From Chairman - None

 

Report From Authority Members - None

 

Public Comment – None

 

On motion of Mr. Eccard, seconded by Ms. Franciosi, the Authority adjourned at approximately

6:21 p.m.

 

It was noted the next Authority meeting is scheduled to occur on June 8th, 2015, 5:15 p.m. at

1649 Rt. 12, Gales Ferry, CT.

 

Joseph C. Cansler Secretary