Town of Pittsford, Vermont

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September 16, 2008


Water and Sewer Commission Members Present:  David Markowski, Hope Rantanen, Allen Hitchcock, John Lapre, and Helen McKinlay. Others Present: John Haverstock, Mark Youngstrom, Bruce Babcock, Linda Drummond (7:05 PM) and Kelly Giard, Recording Secretary.


David Markowski called the meeting to order at 6:30 PM.




The minutes of the August 12, 2008 meeting were reviewed and signed with no corrections.    A. Hitchcock commented that the minutes are very thorough and complete and he appreciates the information that is included.


Town Manager's Report


J. Haverstock reported the following:

  • Bruce Babcock has installed 7 new water meters in June, July & August.
  • A payment of $2,105.47 was received from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) Insurance fund for a hydrant that was damaged on Plains Road.
  • The information concerning the lightning strike is being compiled to be submitted to the VLCT insurance trust for consideration.
  • Mr. Berardo reported that there was a discharge of dye into the system of roughly 500 gallons of a blue "substance".  There was discussion as to whom this may involve.  A. Hitchcock inquired if the dye was impacting the process.  J. Haverstock stated that the dye could be neutralizing the chemical and causing an odor issue within the Town.  A. Hitchcock also inquired if the dye was impacting  State testing.  J. Haverstock stated that he would research this information and present at a future meeting.  Bruce Babcock stated that the dye could possibly be of organic matter.  J. Haverstock was asked to get the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) from the potential culprit.  
  • There has been an increase in the food and grease that is being discharged into the system.  J. Haverstock stated that he has e-mailed the school regarding this issue and the situation was forwarded to Bruce Babcock, as Health Officer, to check the grease trap.  Mr. Babcock stated that the school system should have the grease trap professionally inspected.
  • There were no neighbor complaints of odor emanating from the Wastewater Treatment Facility recently.
  • Otter Creek Engineering stated that the TV imaging is pending and that the smoke testing may not occur due to the high levels of water in the ground.  J. Haverstock stated that this would be communicated to the public as further information becomes available.


Public Comment

None at this time.




Otter Creek Engineering Report Presentation:  Mark Youngstrom from Otter Creek Engineering presented a report that was compiled recently.  D. Markowski stated that the report was of high quality and he appreciated the ease of reading and understanding.  D. Markowski asked for clarification on page 34 regarding the Route 7 south project from Route 3 to Rowe Drive. There was discussion regarding this area possibly being affected by the Route 7 project that is in the works from VTRANS.  J. Haverstock will contact Kathleen Ramsay for any information that she may have regarding this project.   J. Haverstock stated that Robin Rowe would be present at the October meeting to discuss the issues at the Rowe Apartments area.


Mr. Youngstrom stated in his presentation that he has worked with Bruce Babcock throughout the project.  Mr. Youngstrom stated that Pittsford has excellent sources for water and the quality is excellent with sufficient yield and the storage capacity is sufficient.


Dave Hathaway has inspected the tanks and feels that the storage tanks are in good condition on the inside and received a copy of the report.


The system is deficient in the hydraulic distribution.  The fire hydrants draw to a negative flow. 


The billing system was discussed.  The recommendation would be to re-meter due to the fact that approximately 50% of the water that is discharged into the system from the storage tank goes unaccounted for.  Some reasons for this are leakage and unauthorized usage.  A. Hitchcock stated that this also impacts the sewer system.  There was discussion regarding the calculations. Mr. Youngstrom explained that he calculated the areas that are "flat rate" billed based on normal usage.  There was discussion regarding problems with deployed meters and some of the issues may come from the meters being too old, sand in the system, moving parts, size of the meter being inadequate for the location and some water just passing by the meter, just to name a few.


A recommendation was to interconnect the Florence and Pittsford water systems.  The interconnect would provide a back-up system with the Florence area.  Currently, Florence system has storage issues.  There was discussion regarding a back-up system for the water system.  A. Hitchcock inquired about the new pump capacity in Florence.  Mr. Youngstrom explained that the pump would need to be replaced and the control of the 2 systems would be at 1 pump station. 


D. Markowski inquired if Florence met the ISO for insurance.  Bruce Babcock stated that some of the hydrants on an 8" main could be used for fire protection.  Mr. Youngstrom stated that most of the mains in Florence are 6".  There was discussion concerning the current hydrants.  The pressure would increase if the systems were interconnected, thus, increasing the volume. 


Mr. Youngstrom stated that an interconnection would also support OMYA for fire service as well as general usage.  D. Markowski explained that OMYA has their own fire suppression system in place. 


J. Lapre inquired if the interconnection would be beneficial.  Bruce Babcock stated that there have been a couple of times in the past, one being the recent lightning strike.  A. Hitchcock stated that there had been a low flow issue in the past.  Bruce Babcock stated that one situation was that the Sand Springs had turned to "muddy silt" (perhaps due to blasting) and the spring had to be taken off line.


J. Lapre inquired about the stability of the Florence infrastructure.  Bruce Babcock stated that the system was relatively new, possibly built in 1981.    Mr. Youngstrom explained that flow regulators would be used to hold back the pressure; until a case arises that the pressure is needed, possibly for fire protection.


D. Markowski inquired if the well system in Florence were to be used for back up for emergencies, leave the pump system "as is" or change it.  Mr. Youngstrom stated that the pump curve would need to be reviewed and possibly replace the pump.


Mr. Youngstrom explained the costs and funding for the proposed projects.  The entire cost of recommended upgrades is estimated to be $4,400,000.00.  Funding was explained:  The State Drinking Water Fund interest rates range from -3% to +3% over 20 - 30 years and is based on household adjusted incomes; Rural Development (formerly the Farmers Home Administration) offers loan and grant programs.  Pittsford currently falls within the "intermediate" rate community.  This classification allows for 45% grant funding and a loan at their "intermediate" rate, which is approximately 4% currently; The Municipal Bond Bank calculations were discussed and the current rate is used for this option.  Mr. Youngstrom stated that the State average billing for water usage is $400 per year, approximately twice Pittsford’' current annual rate of $220.00.   


Mr. Youngstrom explained the usage of these options and that money could be obtained through more than one source, but that the water rates would have to be close to the State average. 


D. Markowski stated that Florence water rate has been roughly $200 for a number of years.  There was discussion that this was increased with this year's billing. 


J. Lapre inquired if there is adequate domestic supply within the system, with the exception of the southern end of Route 7.  Mr. Youngstrom explained that the fire protection was a concern within the system.


Mr. Youngstrom stated that the 3" pipe through the village was not included in the proposal as this would possibly be part of the Route 7/VTRANS project.


D. Markowski suggested that members review and prioritize the proposals for further discussion at the October 21 meeting.  Mr. Youngstrom explained the Rural Development grants and that there is a possibility that the project or the funding could be scaled back due to the prioritized lists.


J. Haverstock asked for clarification regarding the funding.  Mr. Youngstrom explained that the Rural Development and the sliding scales that are used for the funding.  J. Haverstock asked Mr. Youngstrom what the next steps would be.  Mr. Youngstrom stated that the report should be sent to the State for its review in the Rural Development as well as the Water Review Board.  There was discussion concerning timing as to submission to the State.  J. Lapre expressed concern for the Water and Sewer Commission being charged with the Water upgrades as well as the Sewer upgrades and which project is done first.  D. Markowski stated that there is a temporary permit on the Route 7 South segment that needs to be adhered to and there is a possibility that the permit may not be renewed in the future.  Mr. Youngstrom suggested that the members of the Commission review the temporary permit and a copy is included in the back of the report.  A. Hitchcock stated that he was in favor of submitting the report to the State with a cover letter explaining the status of the report and that the report is being reviewed by the Commission.  D. Markowski inquired if the report should be sent after the next meeting.  Mr. Youngstrom stated that in his opinion, it would be better to send "sooner than later" to "get in line" for funding.  There was a general consensus to send the report with a cover letter explaining that the Commission is still reviewing the report.  Mr. Youngstrom will send the letter and report on behalf of the Town. 


A. Hitchcock inquired how many meters have been installed.  Bruce Babcock recommended that no more new meters be installed until after the project is completed.  Mr. Babcock explained that some of the meters that are failing are newer.  Mr. Youngstrom stated that some towns are installing Remote Radio Read Meters.  There was discussion regarding how this process works.  The discussion will continue at a future meeting. 


D. Markowski expressed thanks to Mr. Youngstrom and Otter Creek Engineering for the presentation.


Billing Issues:  Linda Drummond was present to discuss billing issues.  D. Markowski stated that on March 25, 2008, the billing cycles were revised. 


L. Drummond stated that she has met with Chip from NEMRC has been working on the proposed system.  The billing would be on a quarterly basis and the billing would cost more in mailing fees, so, a semi-annual billing with 2 separate payment stubs were agreed upon.  The water ordinance is tied to the property tax.  There was some concern with the penalty and interest being calculated.  L. Drummond explained when the penalty and interest could be charged.  H. McKinlay recommended that the Water Ordinance be amended. 


L. Drummond presented concerns that NEMRC had presented for consideration.  J. Haverstock spoke noting that the Commission may have been considering softening the impact of the rate increases when the initial suggestion of quarterly billing was raised.  J. Haverstock suggested simplifying the billing.  A. Hitchcock inquired if the quarterly payments were presented in the last newsletter.  J. Haverstock stated that this was included in the last newsletter and a follow-up communication could be included in the next newsletter, that is scheduled to be mailed within a couple of weeks.


L. Drummond suggested that the billing remain as semi-annual and amend the ordinance to include the 8% penalty.


The Commission members discussed rescinding the original action to raise rates and re-enact it, with the exception of deleting any reference to adopting a quarterly billing procedure.   


Motion by H. Rantanen and seconded by H. McKinlay to rescind the March 25, 2008 action.   The statement read "Motion by D. Markowski and seconded by H. Rantanen to increase the Pittsford water base rate from $150 per year to $160 per year; the Pittsford sewer rate from $500 per year to $600 per year; the Pittsford water overage price per cubic foot from $.0075 to $0.008; and the Florence rate from $200 per year to $220 per year with the new fees to be billed quarterly, and the meters to be read semi-annually which is the current practice."  Passed unanimously.


Motion by H. Rantanen and seconded by H. McKinlay to increase the Pittsford water base rate from $150 per year to $160 per year; the Pittsford sewer rate from $500 per year to $600 per year; the Pittsford water overage price per cubic foot from $0.0075 to $0.008; and the Florence rate from $200 per year to $220 per year. 


A. Hitchcock stated that a provision should be included in the next newsletter.  L. Drummond inquired if the Commission would like the penalty timeframe increased to 45 days.  Members felt that the penalty should be left at 30 days.  Passed unanimously.


J. Haverstock will work with L. Drummond regarding the wording on this communication to the community via the next newsletter. 


L. Drummond exited at 8:00. 




Wastewater Treatment


Discharge Report - August, 2008:  The report for August 2008 was reviewed. 


Water & Sewer


The fiscal year 2008 budget status report was reviewed. 


Other Business


None stated at this time. 


Executive Session


The Water & Sewer Commission entered into Executive Session at 8:05 PM for the purpose of Contracts, Properties and Personnel.  J. Haverstock was invited to stay for Executive Session

There was no action coming out of Executive Session at 8:45 PM. 



The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 PM. 

The next meeting will be held on October 21, 2008.


Respectfully Submitted


Kelly Giard, Recording Secretary



David Markowski, Chair

Allen Hitchcock, Vice Chair

Hope Rantanen

Helen McKinlay

John Lapre

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