Water Commissioners Meeting Minutes 1.19.21


MINUTES OF MEETING January 19, 2021

Commissioners Virtually in Attendance:   Dan Harvey, Matthew Bykowski, Cynthia Browning,  Tim Williams, and Todd Wilkins

Also in Virtual Attendance: AWD Operator- Burr Snow, Town Administrator- Nick Zaiac

The meeting was called to order by Mr. Harvey at 7:00PM

Minutes of the Meeting on October 19, 2020:  Mr. Wilkins made a motion to accept as presented, the minutes of the meeting of October 19, 2020. Mr. Bykowski seconded. Motion passed.

Briefing of the Chief Operator:  Mr. Snow spoke to the Commissioners and Mr. Zaiac about a massive service line break at the end of Blair Court that was leaking 15,000-20,000 gallons per day and was reported to Mr. Snow by a neighbor.  He said the service is off, and the owner will have to repair or replace the line if the property is ever inhabitable again.

Mr. Snow spoke about Account #296 on Chiselville Road that has a high balance and hasn’t been paid in over two years. He said it is a family deal gone badly, as the nephew didn’t pay the bill when he owned it and the new occupant was unaware of the money being owed the Town by her nephew.   Mr. Snow suggested the current occupant write a letter to the Commissioners detailing the issue.  

Mr. Snow said he had repaired several technical issues recently, but had not yet calculated the newest system loss figures for the quarter.

Water Rate Initial Discussion:  Mr. Zaiac spoke to the Board about his recommendation to increase a $10 per quarter raise for water rates for Arlington Water Department customers. He said the Board had not raised the rates since they bought the company five years ago, nor had the previous water company raised rates for five additional years. He is suggesting a rate raise to ensure the Water Department is able to cover higher insurance and operation costs as well as being able to improve Spring Brook Pump House and other projects. Ms. Browning said she is open to increases but after the pandemic is over and economic recovery has taken place. She said she would also need to see proposed project estimates. Mr. Bykowski said he appreciates Ms. Browning’s comments about economic recovery, but there is a need to cover the new budget’s deficit immediately, then the Company can build a longer plan. Mr. Wilkins said he is relatively new to the Water Commission. He appreciates that people could be suffering from the pandemic, and perhaps a phased in increase over time might be good, and he would also like to have project estimates to justify the potential increase. Mr. Williams said he feels that some customers do not make paying water bills a priority, and he would be fine with an increase at this time, but could also agree with phasing in an increase in over time. Mr. Harvey said he is inclined to do small incremental increases over time. He said no decision has to be made in order to complete the 2021 Budget, and that this is just the initial discussion, and there will be much more discussion going forward, and an increase could be implemented at any time in the year.

Aged Billables:  The Board reviewed the Aged Billables Report. Mr. Zaiac said over $5000 in payments had come in recently, following letters that went to delinquent customers, and that there are customers waiting to hear from the State about their COVID-19 relief utility money they may in intitled to that would be paid to the Town to bring more accounts up to date. Mr. Zaiac also said there may be additional help for towns from the Vermont COVID-19  Arrearage Assistance Program in the future.

New Business: Water Department Budget:    The Commissioners and Mr. Zaiac discussed the Budget he prepared for 2021. It was discussed that Mr. Zaiac will decrease his Water Department clerical hours by $400 in order to balance the budget. It was discussed that with Mr. Snow being a salaried position, he will make up for the missing clerical hours that Mr. Zaiac will not be doing. Mr. Bykowski asked Mr. Zaiac to create an updated Chief Operator job description, where expectations are clearly defined. Mr. Bykowski made a motion to approve the 2021 Budget presented with the amended clerical line, 71-7-10-110.02 being changed to $7,600 as opposed to $8,000. Ms. Browning seconded. Motion carried unanimously.

Mr. Snow was asked if any progress had been made to remove the properties on South Road that have chlorine contact time issues, as has been discussed at previous meetings. He said he has not heard from the Town attorney yet, but will check with him this week.

Mr. Wilkins made a motion to adjourn. Ms. Browning seconded. Motion passed. Meeting adjourned at 8:00PM.

The next regularly scheduled Water Department Meeting will be April 26, 2021.

Minutes taken by Janet Barry

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