muc meeting minutes
September 25, 2008
Municipal Utilities Commission
September 25, 2008
The Municipal Utilities Commission met on Thursday, September 25th, 2008 at the Council Chambers,
305 Gay St., Cambridge, Md. Mayor Jackson-Stanley convened the meeting at 6:35pm.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked before we officially get started, for everyone to introduce themselves for the benefit of the new members of the Commission.
Present: Mayor Jackson-Stanley
Norma (Nan) Alschbach, New member
Glenn Ford New member
Andrew Pasden, New member
Gary Newcomb, Mgr.-MUC
Kevin Johnson, Asst. Superintendent-MUC
Jane Dorman, Financial Specialist-MUC
Greg LeBlanc, DPW
The expenses for the month of August 2008 were submitted for approval. Mr. Newcomb offered to explain the expenses in detail for the benefit of the new members. Mayor Jackson-Stanley agreed.
After a detail explanation of the expenses motion to approve expenses as submitted was made by Mr. Ford, seconded by Mr. Pasden and carried unanimously.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked to defer approval of the minutes since no members are present that were at the August meeting.
Master Plan Update
Mr. Newcomb informed the Commission that in 1965 the MUC had a master plan of the water system done for necessary improvements and expansion which we have followed since that time. In 2006 the MUC decided with the growth and expansion the City was experiencing we should look at a revision to make sure things were being done and we had adequate capacity for growth, etc. We contracted with Davis, Bowens & Freidel to make a water model of the water system. It has taken longer than expected. We have had two preliminary reports. Today at 4:00pm the final draft was delivered to the MUC. Mr. Newcomb said he did have a chance to look it over briefly. The final draft he noted did not recommend an additional elevated storage tank which the previous two drafts did. The reason is the tank alone with the existing pipe sizing has only a marginal effect on the weaker areas of the City. The main thing to do to improve the weaker areas of the City is to increase pipe sizing in areas.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked even with the current expansion?
Mr. Newcomb stated yes, because all of the approved developments whether constructed or not are included in the master plan. He said he thought we were not ready to discuss this tonight but wanted to give everyone a copy for their review at a later date. If anyone has any questions, please give him a call at the office and he will try to answer any questions.
Post Card Billing
Mr. Newcomb informed the commission at the last meeting the USPS was rejecting our postcard billing because of the automated bar coding interference. He said at the last meeting the Commission met two key employees, Carrie Hall & Sylvester Molock. Tonight we have the other two key employees, Kevin Johnson, Assistant Superintendent (17 years experience) and Jane Dorman, Financial Specialist (26 years experience).
Mr. Newcomb turned over the discussion to Jane Dorman who looked into alternatives that would be acceptable with the USPS.
Jane Dorman asked the Commission to look at the four options which were handed out to them. The first option would be to utilize the post card but use both sides of the card to make room and would not interfere with the postal bar code.
The second would be a trifold bill, which would include a machine and additional software changes.
The third would use regular copy paper, fold in a z format and stuffed in an envelope which would include a machine and additional software changes.
The fourth would be to purchase custom envelopes and use our existing post cards.
She said to keep in mind that if we chose any option but #1, we would also have to allow for increased postage. We currently pay 24 cents for postcards. If we go with envelopes it would increase to 39 cents. She recommended we go with the double sided postcards which would be inexpensive and minimal changes in our system.
Mr. Newcomb said we had just received a years supply of bills. We have not received a deadline on not using the old bills but we will continue to use them up until we have been given a specific deadline.
Mr. Pasden asked if it would be helpful to put a note on the front to let the customer know that the codes are on the back.
Ms. Alschbach said she thought customers would be happy to have a bill very similar to what they are used to seeing.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked for a motion to accept Option 1 (two sided postcards) to be implemented when we can no longer use our current postcard by the USPS.
Motion was made to accept option 1 by Mr. Ford and Mr. Pasden, seconded by Ms. Alschbach. Passed.
Credit Card Acceptance
Mr. Newcomb said at the last meeting it was discussed about use of a credit card system which would have to be a City wide decision. Mayor Jackson-Stanley said she did check with Mr. Johnson and the City only accepts credit cards for gas only at the Marina. It does cost the City money. At the present time she recommended that they do nothing that would cost the City Money. Maybe at a later date. Mr. Pasden stated we would need to read the demand then consider. Mr. Newcomb said he thought it should be brought up since we have a new Commission for them to decide. It has been requested by several of our customers, particularly absentee landlords. The Commission unanimously agreed it could be brought up at a later date but now is not the time. We will approach this at a later date for consideration.
Mayor Jackson Stanley stated before they go on she had a couple of questions concerning unregulated contaminate monitoring regulations which was discussed last month, how is that going?
Mr. Newcomb said they are actually picking up the first samples tomorrow. He did have the figures of what it will cost the MUC. He explained to the new members of the Commission that Cambridge was selected by the EPA, one of 300 municipalities in the country to conduct special samples. What they are looking for is fire retardant bi-products that could be getting down into acquifers. Most of the Municipalities that were selected were ones that service over 100,000 people. Why they chose Cambridge, we don't know. It was not a budgeted expense. It was not a requirement which we were expected to do and there is no means to be reimbursed by EPA. These tests consists of sampling at the point of entry which would be at our pumping station and also an area in the distribution system which would be farther away from the pumping station. The proposal from Water Testing Labs, which does all of our testing, would be two events, one sample in September and the other in February. The Lab will post them on the EPA website. The total cost would be $3,940.00. They are quite expensive testing. He is not asking for a budget amendment at this time.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked if they will bill us in February. Mr. Newcomb said probably part now and part in February. It will be charged to Purification which will be where all our chlorine, our chlorine equipment and sampling are under. However, he may request toward the end of the year to add additional funds into Purification. We may not need chlorination repair equipment parts which will be an unknown at this time.
Tank Washout and Inspections-Station 4 & 7
Mr. Newcomb said we have three tanks under our maintenance contract with Utility Services, two elevated and one ground storage tank. Last week they washed out the Nathans Ave tank. They washed out inside the tank after we drained it. They inspected it, took pictures, washed out all the sediments. We will be getting a report on that shortly. This past week we safely lowered the level at our Fletcher Ave tank. We drained out 100,000 gals of water from the tank. If full, it would be 500,000 gals. The wash out inspections have gone very well over the last few years. They have helped with discolored water and well as water quality. It is a good thing with our maintenance contracts on these tanks. Now when they do these wash out inspections, if they find anything that needs to be done, the maintenance contract takes care of it.
Ms. Alschbach asked how often are the washouts done? Mr. Newcomb said every other year.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley said she would be interested in seeing what that inspection turns out.
Mr. Newcomb said one of the good things that comes out of these inspections is when the state inspector comes around, she is interested in the screens, vents to prevent bugs. The inspections shows all of this.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked how often does the state inspector come down?
Mr. Newcomb said anytime they want to. For the last ten years we have had the same inspector. A woman by the name of Zoe. She will call and we don't do anything special.
Mr. Johnson stated that we are ready everyday.
Mr. Ford and Mr. Pasden said they both took a tour and they know it is so.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley said in October she will make a point to take the tour.
She will not tell when she is coming, she will be like the State Inspector.
Mr. Newcomb said he has pictures of Station 8. It is the tank at Glasgow Street which is a 20,000 gallon tank. We will paint the tank ourselves. We have already painted the outside of the tank. Now inside we found an area that is a problem. He showed pictures to the Commission that has to be screened in and also some corrosion area at the very top of the inside tank. Where the metal overlaps is where the rust is occurring. The other area that is of concern is it is next to the Elementary School which makes sand blasting out of the question due to the lead paint. Our other option we have is remove the top of the tank and replacing it with an aluminum top. He did get some prices from two local shops. The first estimate is $13,500 was quite a bit. The next was for $19,400 way out there. This is not the only option we have. The other option is what he called was scrape and dab it. We can't blast or anything, it would be to do this by hand. We could get 4 or 5 years out of this anyway. The screen would have to be replaced anyway. What does the board want to do? Put an aluminum top on it? The inside of the tank looks remarkable well.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked how old is the tank?
Mr. Newcomb said built in 1958.
We have used less than $300 worth of paint so far. We will have less than $1,000 to put the screen around it. We could do this now and revisit this in a few years.
Mr. Ford stated that right now birds or anything can get in there.
Mr. Newcomb said yes but we will put the screen back up.
Mr. Pasden said that when he met with Gary last week and looked at the map of the Master Plan and saw where the weaknesses were and where the additional money would have to be spent, that was taking into account the other tank in the master plan, now that has been taken out , how sufficient is this 20,000 gallon tank going to be maintaining our quality of service to this area and should that factor into our decision on how we should maintain it?
Mr. Newcomb said this is a very good point. With the consulting engineer, we have discussed increasing the capacity at that station. Right now we have one well, a higher production well than what we have for the service pump in the station. We are actually running the well throttle back because we are pumping water from the well into the tank and from the service pump out. Being the well is pumping more than the service pump, the well pump would be on off, on off, which is not good operation of well pumps. If we increase pump size, it maybe something we might need to consider increasing the size of this tank. Or going to a different means all together whereas we bypass the tank, bypass the service pump and convert to well to a pump where we pump directly into the system. That is an issue. In a few years we may not need this tank or we may need something larger than this tank. That is another thing to throw into the equation before making a decision if we want to spend the other money now.
Ms. Alschbach asked is there any area out there that is undeveloped? That the tank would service?
Mr. Newcomb said no.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley said unless you include Jenkins creek.
Mr. Newcomb said according to the Master Plan on this weak area, it would require changing pipe size from the pumping station to Jenkins Creek, to Alqonquin to Bellevue.
Mr. Pasden stated it looks like a lot of stress and activity on this small station.
Mr. Newcomb said we pump this station two or three times a year. At the same time if we had a problem at another station, we would want this one ready to go.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked if we need a decision today?
Mr. Newcomb said yes.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley said if we decide, where would the money have to come from?
Mr. Newcomb said the reserve fund if we go with one of the proposal rather than the scrape and dab.
Greg LeBlanc asked with the scrape and dab, don't you have to be licensed to remove the lead paint?
Mr. Newcomb said probably.
Mr. Newcomb said as long as we scrape and dab we won't have a problem. We just can't blast it.
Ms. Alschbach asked about man hours?
Mr. Newcomb said our own work force will do the work.
Mr. Newcomb said we absolutely had to replace the screen. We have $300 in paint. This may be good for another five years.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley asked what is Mr. Newcomb's recommendation?
Mr. Newcomb said he recommends the scrape and dab. Maybe at a later date we could add this tank into our maintenance contracts with Utility Services.
Ms. Alschbach recommended that we don't spend the money and go with the scrape and dab. She said she is tight fisted when it comes to spending.
Mr. Pasden said since we don't know exactly what we will do with this tank in 3 to 5 years it makes sense to just do what we can to keep it and see where we will be at that point.
Ms. Alschbach motioned to do the scrape and dab technique on the tank.
Mr. Pasden seconded the motion, passed. All approved.
Lead & Copper Testing
Mr. Newcomb informed the Commission that some years ago we sampled 60 or so sites for lead and copper three years in a row. Due to the fact that the water quality was such that we did not have any levels of lead and copper, the State reduced the number of samples required to 30 two years in a row.
Now they have reduced the samples to 30 every three years. We have to pick the lead and copper samples in the hottest months. They recommend June, July and August. We have done our lead and copper testing and he was hoping to have the results of the tests for the commission. He is happy to say there has not been any that would be alarming.
Mr. Johnson told the Commission the Street opening thru September 19th, 2008.
He told the commission of the new services on the MUC system.
He gave a summary of the Pumpage for August 2008.
Mr. Newcomb said the most pumpage would occur during June July & August.
The Hyatt irrigation used 17,520,000 gals for the month which represents in revenue for us $23,730.00.
Mr. Pasden said in his quick calculation it show it is 14 ½ percent of the pumped water is unaccountable.
He understood that some of this has to do with the fire company for training and fires but is there any way the fire company could measure or estimate the amount of water they use in a given time?
Mr. Newcomb said he has requested this information from the Fire Dept. a number of times.
I have been told they could but there is a situation where a lot of surrounding volunteer fire companies do their training off the water system. Normally anything under 10% is considered acceptable for unaccountable water. We are a little above that 10%. Meter accuracy can be a factor. It was a little over a year ago we found a large leak after the gas company was doing some work up at Race & Cedar.
We had a six inch line that dropped. He estimated the flow at about 140 gallons a minute. That was a substantial leak. After the repair of the leak the unaccountable water came down. Now in the last few months again it is sneaked up again. We do know that the flow meter at the Nathan's Ave station is off.
He estimated it off by 40 gallons a minute. He said he has a proposal on his desk for a gentleman to come down and recalibrate it. That is part of the problem. It has been about 4 years since it has been done.
Mr. Pasden asked if there is a factor in the water bill calculation for unaccountable water and if so what is the percentage?
Mr. Newcomb said no. One thing to keep in mind is that our billing does not run from the 1st to the 31st.
We have some that run from the 10th to the 10th, or the 20th to the 20th.
The flow meters if they are off could make a difference.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley stated you also found the water being stolen from Maple Dam Rd. and took care of that. How long do you think this was happening?
Mr. Newcomb said he thought it was for farm use to mix chemicals, just the way it was hooked up.
Mr. Pasden asked if we have a chart available to explain the purpose of each account?
Mr. Newcomb said he could get him one but once we go thru them you will have an understanding of what they are for.
Mr. Newcomb explained in detail each of the general ledger accounts. He said he is happy to report that the MUC is debt free.
If you add all the accounts up and don't include the revenue or operating fund we have about $842,000 in the bank.
Ms. Alschbach asked how does our calendar run? Mr. Newcomb said from July 1st to June 30th.
Mr. Pasden asked about the CD's and reserve accounts in light of what is going on with the financial industry now, how are we with insurance on our accounts and how safe is the money? Should we consider analyzing what the maximum insurance coverage is and splitting our money up accordingly?
Mr. Newcomb said all municipal funds have to be colatoralized by the institutions and we do receive monthly statements that the funds are colatoralized. We would be guaranteed payment. That is one thing that the auditors do check.
Brohawn Ave Fence
Mr. Newcomb said at the last meeting he requested proposals for fencing for the Brohawn Ave facility.
We had $10,000 budgeted. We received three proposal from reputable fence companies.
The first : Dickerson Fence $8,622.00
The second: Brinsfield Fene $10,902.22
The third: Anderson Fence $8,117.00
Mr. Newcomb recommended we proceed with the fence and go with the low bidder of Anderson.
It is under budget.
Motion by Ms. Alschbach to proceed with low bid, seconded by Mr. Ford. Unanimously approved.
With no further business, the meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:45 pm.
I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and exact accounting of the business of the MUC during the regular meeting held on September 25, 2008. In so far as I am personally aware.
Jane W. Dorman