muc meeting minutes
February 25th, 2010
Municipal Utilities Commission
February 25, 2010
The Municipal Utilities Commission met on Thursday, February 25th, 2010 at the Council Chambers, 305 Gay St., Cambridge, Md. Mayor Jackson-Stanley convened the meeting at approximately 6:30pm.
Present: Mayor Jackson-Stanley
Glen Ford- MUC Commissioner
Andy Pasden-MUC Commissioner
Norma Alschbach-MUC Commissioner
Rex Marshall-MUC Commissioner
Gary Newcomb-MUC Manager
Carrie Hall-MUC Asst. Manager
Kevin Johnson-MUC Asst. Superintendent
Greg LeBlanc-DPW Asst. Engineer
Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked for approval of expenses for January 2010 in the amount of $169,620.48.
Ms. Alschbach questioned the numerous checks payable to the City of Cambridge. Mr. Newcomb explained each one has to do with payroll, Valic, Credit Union and Employee retirement and health insurance to the city.
Mr. Newcomb said our expenses are minimal for the month. They are routine.
With no further discussion, motion to approve the expenses for January 2010 was made by Ms. Alschbach, seconded by Mr. Pasden. Approved.
Minutes for the MUC Meeting of January 28th, 2010 was submitted for approval.
Motion to approve minutes was made to Mr. Pasden, seconded by Mr. Ford. Approved.
Proposed Well- Station 7
Mr. Newcomb said we opened bids for the new well for Nathans Ave station. He said everyone should have a tally with their packet. He said he did contact A C Schultes after the last meeting and gave them the bid number. They were greatly surprised. He said each Commissioner should have a new proposal. The cover sheet stated they made a miscalculation in their estimates. When Mr. Collison told him this, he stated he wanted to resubmit the bid based on his miscalculations. Mr. Newcomb said his personal feelings, he was being sincere. However, if there were no other bids, he doubts that it would have been picked up. His revised number will still make Unitech substantially less around $66,000 plus, or $75,000 difference for 750 gpm. With this, he felt Unitech is the company we should go with. He did request Unitech to send credit references, project references and so on. They did send me quite a detailed list of wells that have been completed. He did check records. He looked into Becket Station in New Jersey, which was completed in December 2009. The job was $223,000. The gentlemen, Jim Scower had nothing but good to say about Unitech drilling. They had used them in the past. No issues or cost over runs. Also, Morris County, NJ, was completed last year. Mr. John Garmosa, stated the contract with them was $895,000. This was a deep well. He stated there were no issues, job was completed on time. He recommended them and had no issues what so ever.
The City of Milford had a project completed in January 2006, they were using Davis, Bowens & Freidel, which is an engineering firm with offices in Salisbury, Milford and so on. He contacted them and they had worked with Unitech on a number of projects, the one in Milford and just recently, the town of Fruitland. They also had no negative comments. Things were completed as proposed with no issues. There were a couple of price over run issues, which was of no surprise to them and expected. They also gave them a recommendation. Kent County, Maryland used them for a smaller well, $100,000. He spoke to Mark Williams with Earth Data in length. This gentleman has worked with both firms and stated we should be very comfortable with Unitech and their people. Another project he checked with was in Camden, NJ, which was a $999,000 project digging three wells. The gentleman's name was Jack Nagel. He has worked with Unitech on other projects as well and he would recommend them with no concerns.
Mr. Pasden said he found it interesting that digging three wells would put it in the same ball park as our digging one well.
Ms. Alschbach asked was the 3 well project recent?
Mr. Newcomb said no, it was done in 2004.
Mr. Pasden stated, with inflation, we are probably getting a better deal than they did.
Mr. Newcomb said the last one he checked was the town of Oxford. They had a well that was $190,000 completed in April 2007. He spoke to Rip Copperthorn, with a firm of Stern and Wheeler Engineering. He had nothing negative to say.
Mr. Newcomb said in the letter from A C Schultes, we needed to check on Unitech's ability to dig deeper wells, whether they have proper equipment.
Mr. Newcomb said he requested this information from Unitech. They sent him a list of six wells somewhat in the area. The City of Millsboro drilled a 2500 ft exploratory test well, which was completed in February 2006. $800,000.
Oxford well was 600 ft+, Queen Anne's County did a well in 2006 which was 700 ft +,
Greenpoint Farms in Wharton, Md. did a well 700 ft+, St. Georges Crossing , Delaware City - 800 ft+, $302,000 completed in 2006.
They have proven they have the capability and with the references he checked, could not find nothing negative. He stated he talked with a representative from Unitech which wanted to be here tonight but they are up in New Jersey the weather would not permit.
Mr. Newcomb said he did receive the contract from them and have not had a chance to review it with Greg or Rob. He felt Unitech is the company to go with based on their proposal. We will not know whether to go with the 500 or 750ft well until the test hole is completed. We will be looking at $303,000 or $320,000.
Ms. Alschbach thanked Mr. Newcomb for doing all the research.
Mr. Newcomb said he did check their Maryland certification of their employees through Zoe Goodson, MDE. It was not her department for well drilling but she did check and they have done numerous projects in Maryland with no issues.
Mr. Pasden said he was surprised we had not heard of them ahead of time. He asked how long is their price good?
Mr. Newcomb said their price would be good for a period of 90 days.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley stated, this is also pending the review of the contract with the engineer and the City Attorney?
Mr. Newcomb said yes.
Mr. Pasden said he would like to give approval for signing the contract based on the reviews by our engineer and City Attorney and if they come out positive, then Mr. Newcomb would have the approval to sign it. That would be my motion.
This was seconded by Ms. Alschbach. All approved. Passed.
Mr. Newcomb said he would like to go over the increases and decreases from the previous year. Operational and Distribution Expenses. We will have the same number of employees staying in the same positions they currently occupy. This does include increments based on the City's compensation plan. With that, it will be a $16,960 increase in the operation salaries. There will be no increase in the transportation. Fuel and maintenance, we should be okay. No need to increase. In Maintenance we will be $83,277. less. This reduction is due to one tank out of contract going from $54,000 to $17,000 a year. The current year we budgeted $116,000 for the year for the westside bypass which we were under spent but would like to use $60,000 on a similar project, possibly the main on Bayly Rd.
Mr. Pasden asked if we have employees sitting in positions where there is promotion potential based on their performance, their position description and they are operating at a position lower and the position is authorized?
Mr. Newcomb said he does not believe we have that now. The potential promotion would be by a change in personnel such as losing someone or retirement. Maybe one to the office would be considered for an increase. This is the reason I have budgeted that in there. With the station operators, I have that in there as a possible because our current station operators are in two different grades. There is a little bit of cushion if the need were to come up.
Mr. Pasden stated we don't want to hold back employees that are good employees that deserve to be recognized.
Mr. Newcomb said he agreed 100%. Since his time in his position, he looks at existing employees for any kind of advancement opportunities. There is no one more qualified than people that are here and have the experience of the lower level jobs. All three employees at this meeting started at entry level positions. My employees know that when opportunity arises, I do everything possible to promote from within.
Administration salaries, increase of $8,177, basically, just increments keeping employees at their current position. The general administration, only increase of $4577. Our total projected operating expenses $1,687,123 or $60,740 less than the current year budget.
The projected revenue, there is some shifting around with $60,000 less in revenues because he was not sure the current years revenue project will be met.
One item he wanted to point out was the sewer service reimbursement. This current year we had budgeted to receive $98,000 and the City Council after the budget was adopted, reduced that number by $50,000. This is a number in which he said was unsure of what would happen. He hoped that City Council would realize that money collected for sewer service should be used for sewer service. We were reimbursed our portion for office operations and so on. Without that $98,000 or $48,000, it will have a big effect on this budget. If the $98,000 is true, we would be looking at a $27,000 surplus. Projected.
Mr. Pasden stated, even at $27,000 surplus, we are spending $300,000 on a well and it would take quite a while to get that money back into the bank.
Mr. Newcomb said from operating budget it would be, but the $300,000 we are using would be money we collected from impact fees. Before Impact fees were implemented, we had capital charges of $350 for new houses. We have $870,000 in reserve of which half came from impact fees. We are just reinvesting that back into the system. The plans for the future is to meet these approved projects but not any new ones, just the ones already given approval. He said it is a wise move to reinvest this money back into the infrastructure with money we collected for that purpose. In the past we have always discussed a comfort number to have on reserve.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked if we ever came up with that number? $400,000 should be comfortable.
Mr. Newcomb said with this budget, we have adequate funds to maintain the system, make improvements to the system. There is no money for new vehicles or major equipment for another year. We should have no problems keeping things up this upcoming year with minimal maintenance to stations.
Mr. Marshall asked if there was any consideration for online bill pay to save on postage?
Mr. Newcomb said it is cost associated with online bill pay. We do offer direct debit now. The bill still goes out. You have a form to be signed and on the 5th of month we directly debit these accounts. This does not help save on postage. All postcard bills go out first class rate. We send out approximately 56,000 bills a year, 10,000 disconnects and also included is the billing for the rental registration. This is one of my reasons why we should not reduce the sewer service fund.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked for a motion to approve the budget for Fy-11. All were in favor. Approved.
New MUC Commissioner
Mayor Jackson-Stanley said she had contacted Commissioner Knox for a replacement for Mr. Prahl on the MUC Board. He came up with Mr. Steve Williams as a representative.
That is also her recommendation to be voted on. He will be representing that side of town on this board.
Mr. Newcomb said he knew him. He was the warden at the jail. Prior to that, he was a deputy for the sheriffs dept.
Motion to accept Mr. Williams on the MUC Board was made by Mr. Pasden, seconded by Mr. Marshall. Passed. Effective march Meeting.
Mr. Newcomb said he would sent him a welcome letter and give him the opportunity to take a tour and fill him in on where we are.
Mr. Newcomb said in the beginning of the month he was greatly concerned about the number of breaks early. They have stopped as of now. It is unbelievable we had only one leak in January.
Mr. Newcomb went over the pumpage for January and unaccountable water (14%).
Mr. Pasden stated, it is getting better. Have we found the leak yet?
Mr. Newcomb said no.
He went over the total water billed , sewer and disposal.
He went over the credit card payments. The first month was $1600, now it is up to $3,261. Thus far it is working well.
Mr. Newcomb said yesterday was the first day we have done disconnects in a while.
We try not to do shut off during the holidays. We also avoid shut offs during freezing weather and snow. We also had to estimate bills during snow. We very rarely ever estimate two months in a row. However, the radio read meters were still read.
The Credit card bills work out to be about 2% of the total bill.
Mr. Newcomb discussed the general ledger budget. Meter sales are just about where they were projected for manufacturing sales, residential, commercial & municipal are slightly down. As discussed previously, sewer service fund, we will not be collecting anything further. Other expenses, we are under budget on all items. If no one has any questions, that is all he has for this meeting. He asked the Commission to have a personnel meeting after adjourment.
We are members of the Rural Water Association , where we get most of our training and certification. A gentleman came around about possible USDA Grant money. The problem Cambridge has, the income level was okay but the population cannot exceed 10,000. Mr. Newcomb said he and Greg talked with Davis, Bowens & Friedel out of Salisbury, and they were willing at no charge to reapply for possible money for the City.
Ms. Alschbach asked what is our population.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley stated, just under 11,000 in the 2000 census but it will be more on this new census.
With no other business, motion to adjourn was made by Ms. Alschbach, seconded by Mr. Marshall. Adjourned to begin Personnel Meeting*.
*Personnel meeting was to discuss City's reduction of workforce and possible reduction of MUC's staff.