• City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
Print this page

muc meeting minutes

February 24, 2011
 

 

Municipal Utilities Commission

Minutes

February 24, 2011

The Municipal Utilities Commission met on Thursday, February 24, 2011 at the Council Chambers, 305 Gay St., Cambridge, Md.  Mayor Victoria Stanley-Jackson convened the meeting at approximately 6:30pm.

 

Present: Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley

              Andy Pasden-MUC Commissioner

              Norma Alschbach-MUC Commissioner

              Glenn Ford-MUC Commissioner

              Steve Williams-MUC Commissioner

              Rex Marshall-MUC Commissioner

              Gary Newcomb- Manager

              Carrie Hall-Asst. Manager

              Sylvester Molock- Superintendent

              Kevin Johnson-Asst. Superintendent

              Greg LeBlanc-DPW Asst. Engineer

Expenses

Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked for approval for expenses for the Month of December 2010 and January 2011.

Mr. Newcomb said he wanted to point out Ck#21125 to Uni-tech Drilling for $31,800.

This is for the formation of the new well at Nathans Ave.  This is not included in the current years operating budget but approved from our Bond Redemption and Improvement Fund. 

Ck# 21159  to Davis, Bowen & Friedel for $2,345.10 is for more work on the Master Plan, basically keeping it current.  Added to the Master Plan were the water lines to the Tech Park and Christ Rock and the Bypass.

All other expenses for December are the basic for a total of $164,093.01.  There were three pay periods in December.

In the month of January, Mr. Newcomb said he wanted to point out ck#21206 to Comptroller of Maryland in the amount of  $50,557.29. This is Bay Restoration we collected for the State. Ck #21208 in the amount of $1,550.45 to the Paper People is the cost of bill stock for about 12 to 13 months supply. Also Ck#21221 to St Mary Refuge of Sinners for $50.00 was a donation to the church in remembrance of James P Fitzgerald who was the manager of MUC from 1978 to 1991.  Mr. Newcomb said he had high regards for Mr. Fitzgerald who had been sick for a bit.  He was 95. All other expenses are repeated for a total for January in the amount of $147,075.58.

Mr. Pasden asked if there is an amount we are allowed to retain from the Bay Restoration Fee we collect?

Mr. Newcomb said there is a formula that we apply based on supplies, etc. It is a form we have. There is a maximum amount, which we usually apply for more than we are allowed.

Mr. LeBlanc said he heard today that the Governor was going to double the amount from $2.50 to $5.00.

 Motion to approve the expenses for December 2010 and January 2011 was made by Ms. Alschbach, with a second from Mr. Ford, passed.

Minutes

Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked for approval of the minutes of December 9th, 2010.

Mr. Marshall said he would like to correct the December 2010 minutes to show he was present.

Mr. Pasden stated the date on page 4-bottom paragraph should be 1947 and not 1047.

Mr. LeBlanc said on page 4 under other, it should state, same contractor put it in, instead of contract.

With no other corrections, motion to approve the minutes was made by Mr. Pasden, seconded by Ms. Alschbach, passed.

Ener-Noc

Mr. Newcomb stated that Ener-Noc is a company that approached us about putting a demand meter at the pumping stations.  They may request that we drop a load at a station and they would reimburse us money. Last year we were contacted once to drop the load at Stone Boundary Station for a period of two hours. At that time Nathans Ave was down and we could not run the generator there.  It was one of those things that sounded too good to be true. On February 8th (enclosed copy) we received a check in the amount of $2,336.12 for the quarter from Oct-Dec 2010.  When we entered into this Mr. Newcomb said he did not think that Oct thru April applied.  He thought it was basically in the summer months. He also enclosed a copy of what we received in December for Jun-Sept. 2010 in the amount of $1,767.37 for a total of $4103.00 for half a year and only had to drop electrical load at one station one time for only 2 hours.  No money out of our pockets. Running the generator is something we do anyway. It still sounds too good to be true. If we were running the Nathans Ave Station the amount would be greater.  If we could get $7,000 back in a year, it would be all gravy for us.

Station 7 -Well #4

Mr. Newcomb said he wanted to bring the Commission up to date on where we stand.

The pump was ordered and they said eight weeks, which have come and gone. Then they were to ship in three weeks from the end of January and it should be anytime.  There is no immediate rush.  We would like to get it finished.  January and February is not a good time to be putting a pump in.  We still have the electric to run to it and they have to connect the well to the existing pipe that goes to the tank.  I expect they will be in at anytime and we will wrap that up.

Utility Service-Communications

 Utility Service is the company we have maintenance agreements with the elevated and ground storage tanks.

There is another division of Utility Service called Utility Service Communications. Presently there are communication antennas on the Fletcher Ave Tank. Verizon has an antenna on it.  Right now they are paying the City (not the MUC) approximately  $17,000 per year for leasing the space on the tank. There is no antenna on the Woods Road tank. Mr. Newcomb said he would like to see some kind of antenna on that tank.  We have not had any real interest. Utility Service Communications will try to drum up business to go on the tank.  If they find someone, they review the plans; they inspect the installation so it does not affect the maintenance contract and so on. The existing contract on the Fletcher Ave tank is with Verizon. Verizon was to do some modifications of the antenna.  If they put something on the tank that is not approved by Utility Service, it affects the maintenance of the tank.  Utility Service is okay with the modifications on Fletcher Ave. without interfering with our maintenance contract.  Mr. Newcomb's biggest concern was if they damaged it, Utility Service would increase the contract cost.  Mr. Newcomb said he would like for Utility Service to try and get an antenna on the Woods Road tank.  The draw back is if Utility Service does it and they market it, and get contractors on it, they would get 30% of the revenue.  It would be 70/30 for the negotiations. Right now we are getting nothing.   70% is better than nothing. The antenna on Fletcher Ave has been there nine years.  The reason we have not been able to get anymore is because there are towers at the County in the old DP&L bldg. The gentleman at Utility Service says he has some avenues we may not be able to pursue.

Ms. Alschbach asked, is there any investment from us to start this?

Mr. Newcomb said no.

Mr. LeBlanc asked if they could renegotiate the contract on the other tank for more money?

Mr. Newcomb said then they would get 30% and would that be more than the MUC receives right now?

Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked if we would be looking at separate contracts? They would also market it, bring in a vendor and monitor the mounting of it and the integrity of the tank would be their responsibility that nothing happens to it and we would get 70% of whatever they bring in?

Mr. Newcomb said that is correct.

Mr. Pasden stated that 30% is insurance.

Mr. Newcomb said what do we have to lose?

Mr. Pasden stated we may also find out the true value of the Fletcher Ave tank.

Mr. Newcomb said Utility Service says you have to be very careful with communications. Just this last improvement, deadline was an issue.  They were trying to push it through very quickly.

Verizon seemed offended that we were getting Utility Service to review it. Utility Service was saying if we are going to review it then we are going to charge you $1,000 , we will charge you $1,000 to inspect what you mount on the tank. They were only interested in making sure nothing changed. He showed Mr. Newcomb what communication services could do to a tank when you give them free reign.  That was their concern.  Right now there is nothing on the Woods Road tank. If we could get something, it would be great.

Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked how long would we have to sign a contract for or do we, in order for them to begin the work?

Mr. Williams stated he assumed that the City Attorney would review any contract.  His reason for asking is to be sure that when Utility Service contract runs out it won't lock us in on the years of contract for the service. We don't want the two contracts to conflict with each other.

Mr. Newcomb stated that Mr. Collison would deal with that issue and I would not want an open end. Utility Service got their foot in the door because they have the service contract with us.  They are the largest tank maintenance company in the country.  They have been expanding quite a bit. Everywhere you go you see antennas on water tanks.  Communications companies like them because there is less movement. Towers are higher but water tanks don't move.  Our water tanks are about 135 ft from the ground.  The overflow elevation is 150ft above sea level. 

Ms. Alschbach asked if Utility Service has been a good supplier?

Mr. Newcomb said he has been very pleased with Utility Service. They basically do what they say they will do. He thinks the tanks look great and are well taken care of.  They will be here the third week of March and the Woods Rd tank will get painted on the outside.  This is in the basic maintenance.  They inspect it themselves. If they use a sub, their inspector inspects the work. If the coating fails, they will be the ones to come back to do it again. This works real well.  Before, when we did the painting, we had to have someone to come and inspect it. The inspection is very critical. Most warranties are only a year. A good coating should last 7 or 8 years on the exterior and 10 or 11 years on the interior if it is done properly.

Mr. Pasden asked what does Mr. Newcomb want from the Commission?

Mr. Newcomb said approval to contact Utility Service and draw up a contract and have it available for the Mayor's signature.

Mr. Pasden made a motion for Mr. Newcomb to pursue the obtaining of a contract with Utility Service Communications for the Woods Road Tank, and give the authority to the Mayor to sign the contract with the approval of Counsel, seconded by Mr. Williams, passed.

Budget FY-12

Mr. Newcomb stated we are coming to the time to submit a budget for next year.  He questioned whether we could submit a budget without increasing rates?  We understand the impact it has on the public.  We hear it. The last few years have been tough on a lot of families in the area.  Last year, he felt was not a good time to increase water rates but unfortunately, the city found it necessary to increase the overall water bill by increasing the disposal fee. Now we are looking at a minimum bill of $41.40. Out of that only $7.90 is what we are keeping and operating on.  It is not a very large percentage. He put together a budget without increasing the water rates. Truthfully, there is not a lot in this budget. Basically some maintenance operations, but no major capital improvements are in this budget.  This year thus far, we have done pretty well on revenue verses our expenditures.

Mr. Newcomb felt we would not have to go into reserves this year, even though we budgeted to be $50,000 in the red.  Also it does not show any reimbursement from the City from the sewer service fund.  He is hoping the City will reconsider this in the coming year.  According to different ones in the City he has talked to, it does not look too promising.  He wanted to highlight totals on the page 1, on the Salaries and Distribution expenses. The revised number for 2011 was $274,553. For FY-2012, it is showing $267,505.  This does include increments for employees and does not include allowance for furlough days. The reason for the decrease, there is one less position.  Right now he did not see the need to fill that position.

In the station operation, there are two people, it looks like a slight increase, and we had a station operator resign two weeks ago.  When someone fills that position, he will be at a grade lower than he was.  Overtime, we will leave the same.  So far this year, we have not had any real problem with overtime. The ones answering overtime, Sylvester and Kevin are salary, Carrie and myself are salary.

Transportation, maintenance will be the same, operation expenses are higher, gas prices have been fluctuating.  Gas prices may be up to $3.75 before dropping back down.

Maintenance of Physical Plant, when we get into details, he will explain the difference in that. Maintenance of mains is the same; maintenance of services is actually showing a decrease. This year we had $60,000 budgeted for main installation, and haven't spent any of that.  We will be starting that in the spring.  What we have budgeted this year, we will be encumbering some of it and it should take care of it and not have to budget for it in next years budget. The maintenance, meters and installation, not entirely meters (modules, radio units) routinely need replacing. Every time we get a little snow, a lot of them get damaged.  Small tools show a small decrease.

Utilities show a small decrease.  We seem to be doing real well in operating the cost of the pumping stations. We monitor the demand at the stations.  If we don't have a station in operation, we don't want to go there and start that station up and then get a bill for $800 or $900 for one day.  He thinks we can meet our expenses at less money based on the current and previous year.  The purification is the same. Engineering looks like we will be spending around $5,000 unless something happens.  Street repairs are the same amount, uniforms are the same amount and machinery and equipment will be needed to replace a service body truck that we have. Is it absolutely necessary?  We may get another year out of it.  He does not want to get to the point where we need all the trucks at one time.  The total expenses are less than the current year.

Administrative salaries are increments and no furlough days.

Payroll taxes are due to increase in salaries. Retirement, we just paid our portion for the current year $78,000 and we budgeted $58,000. Mr. Kinnamon said every year the City gets notice every Feb or Mar of what the rates are to be.  We did not have those new rates.  The rates for the previous year worked out to be .0758% of the total salary. There is also a special liability. The rates on the current year went to .1083.  That is why we got the bill for $78,000. No increase in salaries last year but a 24% increase in retirement. The $80,000 budgeted for next year; the new rate for next year is .11 from .1083. 

Group insurance, we are not aware of any increase from the City. General Insurance, we had a situation where we were not billed a portion of our insurance, so it was picked up in the current year for the previous year. Next year we will not be doing that.

Office supplies and utilities will be less. At the office, we pay half of all utility costs associated with the building at 400 Academy St.

Mr. Pasden asked why is that not allocated by square footage?

There are two departments in other parts of the building, but we do pay our own phone.

Legal and accounting is the exact amount of $12,900 for the audit proposal.

Education and training is less, Miscellaneous is less.

Total General and Administrative currently $727,407, proposed $740,449.

Grand Total  $1,669,255 compared to $1,665,222, a very minor increase.

Where are our Revenue Projections? Residential looks about the same, Commercial, the same. Manufacturing looks better and it is the reason we did not have to go into reserves.

It is showing an increase. Municipal is down. Included in this was the water we were being reimbursed from the City for the sewer pumping stations, which we no longer receive.

Hydrants will be the same. Miscellaneous will be less and fireline charges, a small increase. Penalty fees are consistent. 1200 out of 5500 pay penalties, month after month.

A lot of times Mr. Newcomb said the penalty fee sounds excessive but if you take $60,000 out of our budget, we would have to find it somewhere else.  A lot of our customers pay just what they have to pay and once they get behind, it is hard to get caught up.

Interest income is substantially less.  Sewer reimbursement nothing to nothing. Meter install fees are the same, BRF Reimbursement  $13,000, this is what we get from the State for collecting the Bay Restoration Fee.

Mr. Pasden stated we did not have Ener-Noc in there.

Mr. Newcomb said that would fall under miscellaneous sales. I should charge it back against power cost.

This proposed budget would show a deficit of $25,255.  If we pulled that truck out, we would be presenting a budget in the black.

If you look at salaries, they are all showing increments and not cost of living.  It has been three years since they have had an increase.  They have been operating on furloughs and he would think the employees are deserving of an increase. The City has had a pay scale that has been set up for 20 years and even if others can't support an increase, he feels the MUC can support an increase. They are very deserving.  We have good people and want to keep good people. We are back in a situation where they say you should be thankful you have a job. It is unfortunate.  The staff does a good job.  Even in maintenance, I do have budgeted a possible promotion.  This is something that could happen. Operations would show the new position making less but with a possible promotion.

Mr. Newcomb said if you look under maintenance under Station 3, we would like to replace the windows in the building, they are old metal crank out windows.  We replaced Nathans Avenue's windows a year ago.  The big item you see is tank renovation for Washington Street Station, the last ground storage tank we do not have under maintenance with Utility Service. The tank is getting to the point where it needs to be painted, inside and out.  They will come in and completely renovate the tank. That cost is spread out over three years. The total cost would be $180,000, $60,000 each year. On the fourth year it would fall under what they call their basic maintenance fee, which would be about $15,000 each year. It would stay that way for 3 years and after that increase no more than 5% and that would be for 3 years.  Right now, Woods Rd tank, Fletcher Ave tank, Stone Boundary tank and the Nathans Ave tank, we are paying a total of $65,300 a year maintenance on all the tanks.  They are going to paint Woods Road tank on the outside in the next couple of months.  Last year they did the Fletcher Ave tank. They do annual inspections; they do bi-annual rinse out inspections. Once this tank is completed all the renovations, it would go back to the basic fee.  It is important this year that we include this tank. What would happen if we neglect the tank, then we could get into some substantial repairs. The reason this tank is more than the others, is because this tank will have to be draped to blast the exterior and it has lead paint and would have to be hauled away.  There are other companies that would bid but we have put it off for three years.  Mr. Newcomb said he takes pride in the condition of our tanks.  They look good.  Our biggest asset is our water tanks.  The other items in the budget are pretty basic.  If you look at the maintenance on Nathans Ave., $16,422 is the maintenance agreement with Utility Service. If you look at Stone Boundary, $15,815, that is the maintenance agreement, Wood Rd tank $18,402 is the maintenance agreement and Fletcher Ave $14,900 showing a total maintenance of $154,800.   No major increases on page 6, which we          previously discussed.  Page 7 under Machinery & Equipment was to replace truck 48.  Page 8 are salaries for office staff with increments with no furloughs, payroll taxes, retirement, which we explained the increase and group insurance.  

Office expenses on page 9, we have maintenance agreements on our equipment (Neptune is handheld reading equipment). Total Operating expense is $1,669.255, a minor increase over last year.

Mr. Newcomb said this is a budget without increasing rates.  Mr. Newcomb said we have not neglected anything.  He feels pretty good about the overall system. We have good back up. He feels it is not a good time to increase rates for the public.  He included a summary for Utility Services. 

Mr. Pasden asked when we would have to act on the budget?

Mr. Newcomb said it would have to be approved in May and the City has asked for preliminary numbers for March. He just hopes the City does not increase other charges on the bill, such as the sewer rate percentage.

Mayor Jackson-Stanley said we do not have to take any action now on the budget and we will revisit this at a later date.

Mr. Pasden said his main concern is that we don't become penny wise and                      foolish. That we do take care of what we have and be sure that we are not pushing the can out in the street so far that some day the bill will come due and we will be unable to pay it. I would rather eat it in increments.

Mr. Newcomb said he agrees 100%.  This is why it is important that we do not put off Station 3 ground storage tank any longer.  We need to include this in the budget. We have pushed it back basically because we did not want to increase rates. He thinks it is time.  The last tank we completely renovated was the Stone Boundary Tank.  We paid $54,000 a year for three years. The current year it fell back to $15,000 and over the years that is what we have tried to do.  They are all in the base except this one. It does need to be recoated.  There is no major rust especially on the exterior. There is some on the inside beams under the water line and so on.  If we wait much longer, we risk the possibility of more extensive work to be done. A few years ago we replaced all the aerator housing. We have aluminum aerator housing on them, maintenance free.  We have a lot of old water mains in the system. Are we having a lot of problems? No, but on the superintendent's report, the leaks, we continuously address the problem areas. We have done a lot. All we do with our own work force, we save a substantial amount of money.  Remember the Bypass, the engineer estimate for work was $320,000 and out of pocket, we had less than $70,000. not including salaries.

Mr. Pasden said for the reasons you just pointed out is justification enough to consider  payroll adjustments.

Mrs. Alschbach thanked Mr. Newcomb for all his work.

Superintendent's Report

Mr. Newcomb discussed the street openings in January. He mentioned the 4" cracked line, & the  2" cracked line.

Ms. Alschbach asked if the 2" was the one on Rt.50 ?

Mr. Newcomb said the Rt. 50 one has disappeared.  It is no doubt that it is a very slight leak.  It may be something that only shows up if the pressure is up to 54 or 55.  If the pressure is 51 or 52, it may not leak a drop.With no water showing up, especially in the winter months, we do not want to go into Rt. 50.  We are keeping a watch on it.

We replace service saddles in Buena Vista.  We replace galvanized services.  We invoice Sanitary District for repairs on Sandy Hill Rd and they would show up in miscellaneous sales.  We replaced hydrants on Race St.  Haddaway's camera picked up the van that hit the hydrant, which broke off underground. We do have a claim for the insurance company.

Mr. LeBlanc asked if we replace a service, is it all the way to the house? 

Mr. Newcomb said only to the meter.

Mr. Newcomb briefly went over the new services.

Mr. Newcomb said most of the leaks in February again are the galvanized services.

Pumpage for December was 55,253,000 and included in this was the leak at the Hyatt. Unaccountable was 13,392,000.

In the past, December seems to be the highest month for unaccountable water.

Compared to last year, it is very similar.

January pumpage of 54,235,000 with unaccountable of 7,941,000 includes the flushing of the lines installed at the tech park. We have some heavy flushing in January and February.

The General Ledger in December page 4 should show we should be at about 50%.

Manufacturing is up, residential is a little down, municipal is down, fire lines are once a year billing and penalties are pretty consistent.  Impact fees are something we do not budget for. Miscellaneous sale should see a big jump in January and February.

There are no real issues that we would not be on budget on.

In January on page 1 Credit/Debit card acct, this is what we have collected on the credit card.  The $92,628.22 is totally MUC money, even though we collected sewer, disposal and bay restoration, we paid that from the revenue acct in the City.  We transfer it there.

He briefly explained the operating/debit is for customer that request direct debit. We debit their account the same time every month. There is no charge for using this.  This is also only MUC money now.  All money we collect other than credit card & debit goes into the revenue acct.  This may get as high as $300,000 at some point until we transfer the City's part into their account.  All the other accounts are MUC money also except Acct#1400, which we have to keep $35,995 in case someone claims their bond.  Our money is still pretty good.  We still have about $92,000 to pay on the new well.

We have a little bit of money built up. The credit card debit and operating debit is money we have built up in the last year. Previous years he told them how close we were operating with money in and money out. We have to pay our bills with this because we cannot go into any reserve funds. We can only go into reserve funds with the Commission's approval.  We have a little extra cash built up above our expenses. This is why I thought we were okay with the repairs for the well at Glasgow St. without really changing the budget and don't have to go into the reserve fund.  This year we are doing okay.

Looking at the January totals, the numbers are still looking good.  This is normally the lowest month of the year as far as sales.

Mr. Pasden asked where is the spike is manufacturing coming from?

Mr. Newcomb said the big one is Mushroom Canning.  They use quite a bit of water.

Mayor asked about Foodswing?

Mr. Newcomb said they were running a minimum usage for a number of months.

The monthly consumption reports show 41,861 for December and January 46,294 for consumption.

Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked if there are any questions or discussion for the superintendent's report.

Ms. Alschbach said to keep an eye on the Rt. 50 leak.

Mr. Pasden said it would probably happen on a Friday afternoon in July.

Mr. Newcomb said he feels pretty confident of what it is. Years ago we put bell joint clamps on and unless the bolts have been eaten up so bad, it won't blow.  It is lead and not leadite.

Mr. Leblanc asked what MUC has in Maces Lane?

Mr. Newcomb said we have one section left of 2" pipe that we would like to do away with completely. That would be from Robbins to Washington St.  Actually from Robbins to Washington St we have 3 lines, a 12", 6" and 2".

Mr. Leblanc said he hopes they are nice and deep. 

Mr. Newcomb said the two-inch is not.  The 6" is transite.

Mayor Jackson-Stanley said it sounds like we will have to keep in constant contact once they start on Maces Lane.

Mr. LeBlanc asked if we know how deep it is?

Mr. Newcomb said about 4 foot.

Mr. LeBlanc said hopefully we will not lower the street more than 6 inches.

Mayor Jackson-Stanley said now that we know we will keep that in mind.  It is a good thing this was brought up.

Mayor Jackson-Stanley said we have to make sure we meet every month because this is the longest meeting we have had in a long time.

With no further business to discuss, motion to adjourn was made by Ms. Alschbach and seconded by Mr. Pasden at approximately 8:14pm.

Respectively submitted.

Jane Dorman