• 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
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muc meeting minutes

January 22, 2009

Municipal Utilities Commission


January 22, 2009

The Municipal Utilities Commission met on Thursday, January 22, 2009 at the Council Chambers, 305 Gay St., Cambridge, MD.  Mayor Jackson-Stanley convened the meeting at 6:30 pm.

Present:            Mayor Jackson-Stanley

                        Charles Prahl - MUC Commissioner

                        Andy Pasden - MUC Commissioner

                        Norma Alschbach - MUC Commissioner

                        Gary Newcomb - Mgr. MUC

                        Sylvester Molock - MUC Superintendent

                        Kevin Johnson - MUC Asst. Superintendent

                        Greg LeBlanc - DPW Asst. Engineer


Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked for approval of the expenses for the Month of December 2009 in the amount of  $55,461.97.

Mr. Newcomb commented on ck#19420 to PKS & Co $7,285.00. This is the balance of the audit for FY-09.

Mr. Pasden questioned ck#19449 to Direct Energy $9,179.55.

Mr. Newcomb said this is for power cost. Direct Energy supplies and Delmarva Power delivers.

With no further discussion, motion to approve was made by Commissioner Alschbach, seconded by Commissioner Pasden. Approved.


Mayor Jackson asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the December 4th, 2008 meeting.

Motion to approve was made by Commissioner Pasden, seconded by Commissioner Alschbach. Approved. 

Disposal of excess vehicles

Mr. Newcomb said all vehicles were advertised in the paper at a cost of $308.00.

The total received for the vehicles was $3,698.00.  All are paid for and have been picked up. We have one left in the yard to be picked up.  The insurance on these vehicles have been canceled and Odie Wheeler will be returning the tags to MVA on Friday, January 23, 2009.

Mayor Jackson- Stanley asked where will this money go?

Mr. Newcomb said it would go to miscellaneous sales and service.

Jenkins Creek - Fire Flow

At our last meeting, we received a  letter from Chief Hurley informing  the MUC what he considered inadequate fire flow for the area known as Longboat.  Mr. Newcomb said he contacted Davis, Bowens & Firedel  on  a solution to increase the flow to that area.

We received a letter back from them with recommendations which will go along with  the Master Plan revisions, such as replacing the 8" main with a 12" on Jenkins Creek Rd.,

up to the Glasgow Street Station and on around Sandy Hill and Hambrooks. 

He also asked what we could do to improve flow at the least amount of expense.

The scenario  he wanted them to try was to extend the existing Bypass Road from

Washington St to Jenkins Creek Rd. Presently there is an 8" line coming from Washington St  to the Waterford Development and the 8" line stops. It does not continue on thru. If that line was connected, which would mean a 8"line connected to a 12" line , connected to an 8" line.  The reason for a 12" now would be for future plans. The 8" line in Jenkins Creek Rd would eventually have to be changed to a 12".  With that connection, we could get 2100 gpm vs. 1000gpm now.  That would be the quickest and least expensive solution to increase flow. 

Mr. Newcomb said the MUC has been receiving impact fees.  The City does not pay for any infrastructions for new developments.  Impact fees are something we should use for improvements to the water system.  Storage tanks, wells, distribution lines would all be improvements to the water system.  He said the proposed Bypass Road would be considered a distribution line.  It would improve flow, both to Foxtail Development and Jenkins Creek Developments. We are talking in the neighborhood of 1600 feet. What he would like the MUC to pursue, included in next years budget as well as supporting  the use of impact fees, would be to connect the mains from the proposed Bypass Road to Washington St.

The  proposed Bypass Road is currently closed, so we could run 300 feet, stop and then continue as time allows. It is a project using C900 Pipe.  We could do the majority of the installation ourselves.  There is one portion we would have to contract  out, a wetland issue, and some culverts. Mr. Leblanc understands all of this and we would have to contract out for some directional drilling.  The rest we could just work along on it.  If we would do the work ourselves, with the exception of the contractual part, we have the cost of the materials, and fill dirt, but it would be no where near the cost of a contractor. He said he has not looked into the cost of directional drilling and add the cost of material , roughly the piping would be $50,000.00.

The quickest, easiest and cost efficient way is for us to do this.  It is within our capabilities and I know we can do this.

Mr. Newcomb stated, at our next meeting he will have some hard numbers for us to consider. As far as having it as a budgeted item, he thought it would be a item we would utilize funds from  our impact fees and not our operating funds.

Mayor Stanley Jackson said impact fees are strictly used for infrastructure improvement.  Are we looking at $100,000  or $150,000?

Mr. Newcomb stated his thought would be $120,000.

This is a project that would strengthen the water system overall.

Vehicle #59

Mr. Newcomb  discussed three proposal to purchase a new vehicle thru the State Contract.

This would be a new truck for our operators.  One of the things they do in the summer is cut grass.  We have a fairly heavy trailer to pull the grass cutters. It would be to our advantage to purchase a vehicle with a tow package verses a bumper hitch.

General motors does not offer a tow package with a V6. 

Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked which vehicle did Mr. Newcomb recommend?

Mr. Newcomb said the 4.8L  Silverado with towing package, full size with a short bed.

The Price is $19,979.  We have $20,000 budgeted for this expense.

Motion to approve the purchase of the 4.8L  Silverado, V8 with towing package was made by Commissioner Alschbach, seconded by Commissioner Pasden, Passed.


Commissioner Alschbach said she a read a letter from the City Attorney in reference to the Owners of the properties getting the water bills directly instead of the tenants.  Was there a decision made? 

Mr. Newcomb said he would be pursuing this to the City Council. He did have a meeting with the gentleman who claims to be head of the Landlord Association.  Their plan is to pursue to have the owners no longer responsible for the water bills.  He did inform me of a possible law suit. 

Mr. Newcomb said there is no other municipality in the state that does not hold the property owner responsible, even down to the bay restoration  fee which we collect for the State. It is a City Code.  It would have to be changed by City  Council.  Mr. Newcomb said he can't  imagine the Commisioners changing it .

Commissioner Alschbach said she does not want to rush Mr. Newcomb, but she would like to be there when it is discussed by Council.

Dorchester County Board of Education Request

The Commission received a letter from the Board of Education requesting a waiver of permit fees for the construction of the new Dorchester Career & Technology Center.

This is the same request made to City Council. 

Mr. Newcomb said this is something that should be left in the hands of the City.

Mayor Jackson -Stanley asked if anyone had any objections to send this back to the City for a resolution? 

No objections.

FY -2010 Budget Considerations

Mr. Newcomb said he wanted to go over a quick proposed budget for next year.

The City requested we submit a budget with no increase over the current years budget.

The current years budget is a maintenance budget, we have no capital improvement in it.

It is basically a bare bone maintenance budget. It would be difficult to come up with a budget that would be less or equal.

Increments for eligible employees, transportation could stay the same, operations and maintenance could also continue as the current year.  The physical plant is slightly less.

However there is certain things we have to continue under a maintenance budget, such as the maintenance contracts for our tanks and the 3rd year renovation on the Stone Boundary Tank.  There is very little we can delete.  The maintenance of the mains thus far looks like it may be a little bit less.  Utility costs looks okay so far. A small figure for engineering  is added for the use of the water model if needed thru Davis, Bowens & Freidel.   The Bypass Road would be a scenario for this cost.  Payroll taxes are slightly up.

Group Insurance is a guess based on City Council decision. 

Local Government Insurance inspector found minor improvements for the MUC on his inspection of the Physical Plant.  (no smoking sign in new pole building, additional extinquisher, etc.)  The total cost would be approximately $200 to be in compliance.

Commissioner Pasden asked if we had a water main break and it flooded someone's house, would we be responsible?

Mr. Newcomb said possibly.  We have insurance against this. We also have public official insurance for each one of the MUC Commissioners in the event that someone would want to sue you.

Mr. Newcomb stated with the proposed budget as low as it could go, it would still be about a $4,000 increase over the current year.  If you look at the revenue projections this year, they are fairly close.  If you look at the projections for next year, hopefully we won't loose any large customers, with no rate increase. Last year we increased the rate by 30%.   This year we are looking at a surplus of  $133,000 and next year a surplus of $120,000 if we don't take in depreciation expense as an expense against operations.

Our depreciation expense is around $180,000 a year.  From an audit standpoint, that $133,000 surplus would reflect a $47,000 deficit.

Mayor Stanley-Jackson asked if there is no savings in this current budget to offset what you just explained?

Mr. Newcomb said no.

Mr. Newcomb said he wanted to go over Budget Considerations.

These are things that we should consider if not this year than in the future.

Mr. Newcomb went over in detail considerations for the proposed budget, improvements and maintenance to Station 3, 7, 8, 11 and new equipment which are itemized in Budget Considerations.

He also said he wanted to add to the list , the extension to the Bypass Road. 

Out of the list he presented, Mr. Newcomb asked the Commission to strongly consider  the Window replacements to Station 7 & Station 8, the drainage at Station 11, the 4" wet tap, the Distribution system testers and if possible the replacement of well pump #2 at Nathans Ave.  Those items would be $43,250.00. 

Based on our proposed budget and if our revenue projections are accurate, we would be looking at a surplus of $129, 177.  If we include the $43,250  we would still be operating with a surplus of $85,927.  This would be before any action is taken to get a line into the Bypass Road.

Commissioner  Pasden said it is his opinion, the reason we have a surplus is to pay for things like this.  These types of things always exists and if you wait too long, a major expenditure may come up that you have to deal with, so it is only prudent that we take care of some of these things every year.

He asked how much money do we have in reserves if a major funding emergency occurred, to tap into?

Mr. Newcomb said we have around $850,000 we could access at anytime. We can only go into reserves with the approval of the board and the recommendation of the consulting engineer. This includes impact fees.  Impact fees can only be used for certain things. 

Mayor Jackson-Stanley said she had picked the same considerations to the budget except she had included in her list of priorities, an auxillary generator. 

Mr. Newcomb said we have two. It would be nice, but it could wait. He felt comfortable with two we have.

Mr. Newcomb said the reason he presented the budget this way was the City recommended we keep the budget as low as possible. However, we do generate our own revenue.

Commission Pasden said as far as the citizens are affected, they are only affected on the revenue side, which the rates are already established. Anything you save on the expense side does not affect them directly.

Mr. Newcomb said , also keep in mind, we have a master plan with an awful lot of improvements and recommendations.

Mayor Jackson-Stanley said the key word is recommendations.  We will have to make some very tough decisions.

Mayor Jackson-Stanley said the Commission needed time to consider these recommendations.  She said she liked the idea of the Bypass Road connection to be added.

Mr. Newcomb said he hopes that this year we will see a surplus. If we do, we may not have to tap into reserves to include the Bypass Rd.

Commissioner Pasden asked if the Bypass Road was included in the Master Plan improvements?

Mr. Newcomb said it goes in conjunction with the Master Plan.

Mayor Jackson-Stanley said at our next meeting we will make our proposals to the budget.

Unaccountable Water

Mr. Newcomb said at or last meeting we talked about the 29% unaccountable water.

We found two items contributing to the unaccountable water.  A leak on Greenwood Ave on a 6" line and running into a storm drain.  400,000 gals a day going into the ground.

Public works crew found the water running into the manhole.  It probably ran  for approximately  2 months.  The other issue was improper billing at the Hyatt. 

Mr. Newcomb handed out a history of the Hyatt billing. He noted the repair orders.

The meter has two dials Hi & Lo. The Hi side was picking up automatically.  The 9 million gallons billed in December should have been billed over a period of 8 months.

The reason  is they have to lift the lid for a daily reading and they continuously damage the wiring.  We found this out on a manual recheck of the large meter at the conference center.   They should have to purchase an automatic reader to prevent this from happening in the future.  We have told them to stay out of the pit.  The reading is accurate.

He noted that they paid the bill.  He said he expected the bill would be brought to the board.

This was good news on unaccountable water and revenue.

Superintendent's Report

Mr. Newcomb briefly went thru the street openings.  He mentioned the leak on the Cemetery and Race.  It did not run long.  He wanted to mention that out of the six people called, four were salaried.  He mentioned this because the City is requesting no overtime for hourly employees.  This time of year could be a problem.  Mr. Molock was called out 22 times this weekend. He is salaried.

New services show a lot of activities on Foxtail Drive.  These would be new customers for us.

December pumpage  is a little misleading due the added billing for the Hyatt.

Total billed consumption was 49,372.

Looking at the general ledger balances, we are very close to the projected revenue for the year.   Everything is as expected.

Mr. Newcomb mentioned the penalty fees collected which seems to be consistent. He said it amazes him how many customers pay that $5.00 fee each month.

Mr. Newcomb handed out a utility bill in the amount of over one million dollars which  was a mistake.  He just wanted them to see it.

With no further business the meeting was adjourned at 8:30pm.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and exact accounting of the business of the MUC during the regular meeting held on January 22, 2009.  In so far as I am personally aware.

Jane W. Dorman