Meeting Minutes : Water & Sewer Commission




February 19, 2013


Water and Sewer Commission Members Present – Allen Hitchcock, Bob Harnish, Helen McKinlay, and John Lapre.  Others present:  Hank Pelkey, Brian Fillioe, Colleen Conway, Albert Conway, Cathy Rider, Terrence Keith, Tom Carrara, Laurel Hathaway, Christine Maseroni, Brian Provin, John Haverstock and Kelly Giard – Recording Secretary.

Allen Hitchcock Chairman, called the meeting to order at 6:35 PM. 



The minutes from the January 15, 2013 meeting were signed, with no corrections.


Town Managers Report: 

J. Haverstock reported the following:

·         There will be a new water customer in the very near future.  A meter will be installed at the location on Route 7 south.  The ERU’s will be determined upon what will be occurring at the commercial site property.

·         The utility bills were due on February 19, 2013.  There was discussion that there have been complaints expressed about on the new sewer rates.


Public Comment: 

Tom Carrara inquired about the make-up of the Water & Sewer Commissioners.  A. Hitchcock stated that there have been no volunteers that are on the system.  Hank Pelkey stated that the Select Board originally had stated a “preference” that the members of the Commission be on either the water or the sewer. However, there have been no volunteers that are on the system.  Therefore, the folks that currently are on the Commission have stepped forward to volunteer their time. 



Update on Water System Expansion Project:

J. Haverstock reported that the necessary permits have been obtained for the project and the necessary easements have been obtained and recorded on the land records. 


Mark Youngstrom has written a time-line for the project.  Mr. Youngstrom is recommending the bidding process to begin in early March with the bids due the first week in April with construction beginning as soon as possible after the award of the bid.  Mr. White has requested that he be present for the construction taking place on his property.


Update on Well-Drilling Fund:

J. Haverstock reported that the Select Board has signed the loan documents to allow the Town access to up to $200,000 from the State Revolving Loan Fund.  The Town has notified the 26 interested landowners and 2 closings have occurred, with more to follow in the days to come. 



Update on Project Status:

J. Haverstock reported that the project is done and Mike Smith indicates that there is possibly $1,000 in grant funding remaining.  There will be a confirmation of this and Mike Smith will submit the change orders.  There are 3 minor projects to be completed before everything is completed.  The sewer ordinance is due for revision; the grease traps at commercial food preparers will be addressed; and the “after action review” will be completed with the State.  J. Haverstock updated the Commission on the status of these issues to be completed.


Review of Discussions with State Regulators RE:  Sewer Upgrade Results

Water and Sewer:

A. Hitchcock gave an update regarding a meeting that has occurred with the State about the details of the “after action review” report. 


Review of Results of Grease Trap Inspections:

This topic was deferred to Executive Session.


J. Haverstock stated that a letter was written to commercial food preparers within Town requesting a meeting to review the Ordinance that requires the use of grease traps.  Mike Smith attended the meetings with the establishment owners.


Water & Sewer:

Review of Customer Input RE:  New Sewer Rates & Rate Structure:

Al Maxham inquired about the accuracy of the meters.  J. Haverstock explained that a site visit can be done by Bruce Babcock or Shawn Hendee, in the presence of the homeowner and a test to determine leakage will be performed any where within the property (e.g. toilet leaks).  J. Haverstock explained that there is a link on the Town’s website that can assist the property owner in determining the existence of any leaks.  J. Haverstock continued explaining that when the visit is occurring, there is a request that no water be running and if the meter is still in motion, there is a probable leak some place in the structure.  The engineers have explained that there are a lot of property owners who just do not realize the amount of water that is used within their buildings. 

Mr. Maxham indicated that Bruce Babcock has visited the site.  Mr. Maxham also indicated that he has 4 hook-ups and indicated that the sewer usage is very erratic and the home usage as compared to the daycare usage is lower than the home usage.  Mr. and Mrs. Maxham indicated that there is no one home and that there is not a leaky toilet.  Mr. Maxham believes that the meter is inaccurate or is being read inaccurately.  Mr. Maxham expressed frustration over the amount of taxes and the sewer costs. 

J. Haverstock indicated that he would be willing in visiting the site with either Bruce or Shawn.  J. Haverstock explained that the Town is willing to work with any property owner who may be having a difficult time making payments, whether it be sewer, water or property taxes. 

Mr. Maxham inquired if everyone in the Town was eligible to vote on the water bond and sewer bond.  The Commission members answered that this was a Town-wide vote.  Mr. Maxham inquired why the residents who are not on the services are allowed to vote.  J. Haverstock explained that legal counsel was contacted and that the entire Town is responsible for bond debt but that the bond costs are passed on to the users.  J. Haverstock continued to explain that there are towns that have a water or sewer district and only users on that system would be responsible and allowed to vote.  Mr. Maxham expressed concern for the repayment of the bond and felt that the entire town should be repaying the bond amounts.  J. Haverstock invited Mr. Maxham to review the legal counsel’s documents.  A. Hitchcock requested that Bruce Babcock visit the property and assess the meters that are on Mr. Maxham’s property.


Tom Carrara expressed that equipment and labor should be reviewed before rates are set.  Mr. Carrara inquired if the new bond debt can be paid by all taxpayers.  A. Hitchcock explained that over the past number of years, the sewer system has experienced deficits, therefore, making the deficit an expense to all taxpayers.  J. Haverstock explained that there was an insert that was included in the utility bills outlining the costs to run the water systems.  Brian Provin explained that the real estate values are being affected by high utility rates.  J. Haverstock suggested that Provin may want to discuss the matter with the Listers.  Mr. Carrara indicated that the entire Town utilizes the fire hydrants.  J. Haverstock reported that the fire hydrants are being paid for by all taxpayers through their General Fund property taxes, at a cost of $35,000 per year.


Mr. Maxham inquired about the formulas for sewer usage billings.  J. Haverstock explained that the calculations are based on the “break-even” formula.  J. Haverstock explained that the consultant (Mark Youngstrom) proposed the formula, which was reviewed by the Commissioners and Mr. Youngstrom, prior to adoption.   


Terrence Keith expressed concern over the meters’ accuracy.  J. Haverstock will research and be in contact with Mr. Keith.  J. Lapre explained that shower head and other fixture changes can make a huge difference in the billings.  J. Lapre explained that the water meters are certified by the manufacturer as being accurate.  Laurel Hathaway echoed that she thinks meters should be checked as her bill was extremely high, in her opinion. 


Mr. Maxham explained that the red wire and the green wire to his meter are possibly in contact and affecting meter accuracy.  Bruce Babcock will be contacted and will set up a time to visit the site.


Mr. Maxham requested permission to install his own meter to verify that the town meter is running properly.  A. Hitchcock indicated that if there was an issue with the Town meter, there would be discussion at that time.



Review of Abatement Requests:

J. Haverstock reported that there have been numerous calls concerning the new rate structure and other varying billing questions and concerns.  Some of the concerns were deferred to Executive Session.  Mike Smith and Mark Youngstrom have been contacted with some of the concerns.


There were a couple of customers who have had a removal of sinks, which have been confirmed by the Listers’.  These removals will be addressed administratively.  There is also a request from the owner of a rental trailer and Bruce Babcock has visited the property and there may be nothing that can be done with the meter that can resolve the issue.  Bruce Babcock has witnessed leaking on both sides of the water meter.  There was discussion concerning the service line and there have been temporary fixes done to the service line.  Brian Fillioe indicated that if a meter is properly installed and properly insulated, the meter should not freeze.  J. Lapre inquired if this installation was completed by MBS.  J. Haverstock deferred that portion of the discussion to Executive Session.



None presented at this time.


Executive Session:

Motion by H. McKinlay and seconded by J. Lapre to enter into Executive Session for the purpose of personnel.


The Water and Sewer Commission entered into Executive Session at 8:01 PM.  J. Haverstock was invited to stay. 


The Water and Sewer Commission came out of Executive Session at 8:19 PM. with the following action taken:  Motion by J. Lapre and seconded by H. McKinlay to abate the Hooker utility bill for 24 Mechanic Street to eliminate charges greater than last summer’s bill due to leaky meter assembly and to install a separate barn meter at the Bob Forrest property and flat rate bill him for sewer usage for the last billing cycle and the current cycle based on his argument that most water used at his property goes to livestock and does not reach the sewer.  Motion passed 3 – 0 (B. Harnish not present.)



The Commission adjourned at 8:20 PM.

The next regular meeting will be held on March 19, 2013.


Respectfully Submitted



Kelly Giard, Recording Secretary                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


Allen Hitchcock, Chair



                                                                        John Lapre, Vice Chair



                                                            Helen McKinlay



Bob Harnish