The Board meets on the first and third Monday of each month. Meetings begin at 1:00 p.m. and are held in the department conference room at 65 Lafayette Ave, Littleton. Board meetings are open to the public and time is allotted for public comments at each meeting.
The regularly scheduled Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting began at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, June 03, 2013 in the Littleton Water and Light Department (LWL) conference room. Present were Commissioner Eddy Moore, Commissioner Perry Goodell, Commissioner Ralph Ross, Financial Services Director Cheryl Wilkins and Superintendent Thomas Considine.
The minutes of the May 20, 2013 regularly scheduled Commissioners meeting were reviewed. Commissioner Goodell made a motion to accept the minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Ross.
The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0.
CUSTOMER & PUBLIC CONCERNS:
1. Commissioner Moore opened a meeting to solicit public input at 1:03 pm relative to discussion about the department proposed plan to increase the water rates.
Superintendent Considine stated that several newspaper ads were placed advertising the public hearing and that he is not aware of any public comments concerning increasing the rate. The BOC was presented a power point slideshow presentation that contained talking points that were addressed by Superintendent Considine.
The following comments were noted: 1) the water rates were last increased on July 2008 and had an impact on a residential customer of about $1.00 per month, 2) to cover the cost of the new water storage tank service debt a four and one half (4 1/2) percent increase in water rates is needed, 3) 75% of the storage tank is reserved for fire suppression and a modest increase (hydrant fee increase of 9%) was passed on to the Town of Littleton tax base which is not reflective of the actual situation as the department is subsidizing the fire suppression capacity for the Town of Littleton.
Commissioner Ross commented that the money is coming out of the same pocket ultimately, as long as the tax payers (town) are aware that the department is funding the fire suppression costs for the Town of Littleton, itís all relative. The fire suppression system does benefit everyone in town that is served by the fire department which does justify the hydrant fee rates.
Following more discussion with regard to hydrant fee structure the BOC acknowledged that the hydrant rate fee established (at $ 70 per hydrant per year) only covers about twenty-five (25) percent of the expenses associated with maintaining the fire suppression system. The department can replace about three (3) hydrants per year based on the funds presently collected through the hydrant fee charge.
Several rate design methodologies were considered to discern a rate that would adequately incorporate project debt service as well as provide adequate operating revenues. The anticipated impact on customer classes was discussed and considered during the rates design process. It was noted that the average monthly impact to the residential class customers would be minimal (about the cost of one (1) quart of bottled water), well below the State of NH average water rate. Larger commercial class customerís increase would be proportional to their consumption depending on the new rate established by the BOC.
Commissioner Moore wanted it noted that there were no public comments received and that no customer presentation was in attendance at this hearing.
Commissioner Moore closed the public information portion of the meeting and returned to the regular Commissioners meeting at 1:28 pm.
2. The Commissioners agreed to continue their discussion relative to increasing the water rate.
Commissioner Ross stated that the margin in the current rate structure does not support system infrastructure improvements and by maintaining a margin that just satisfies the department debt does nothing to better the system. He suggested that the department update its water system capital improvement plan as this would set priorities for funding and budget goals could be easily established and justified.
Commissioner Moore stated that he believes that the water rates should be adjusted at a more frequent interval and recommends that the department not wait as long between rate adjustments as he feels that it would be less of an impact to the customers.
Commissioner Goodell made a motion to increase the water rate by twenty-nine (29) cents per 100 cubic feet or about twelve (12) percent and that it take effect July 1, 2013.
Seconded by Commissioner Ross
The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0.
Note: The new water rate per 100 cubic feet effective July 1, 2013 will be set at $2.69 and it is anticipated that the average impact to residential customers will be about $1.37 per month.
FINANCIAL DIRECTORS REPORT:
Mrs. Wilkins reviewed the financial statements for the month ended March 2013 with the Commissioners. Several discrepancies as compared to budget were discussed and explained by Mrs. Wilkins.
SUPERINTENDENT/ MANAGERS REPORT:
1. The Littleton area was hit hard by several severe weather events that caused many power outages through the department service territory over the past several weeks.
Heavy rain and snow over the Memorial Day weekend caused several wide spread and long duration power outages due mostly to trees falling across overhead lines. Generally the higher elevations throughout the system were impacted the most by the heavy snow collecting on the leafed canopy causing branches and trees to fall into the lines. An outside tree trimming crew was retained by LWL to provide assistance to clear the lines at several locations during restoration efforts. Department personnel were mobilized for more than twenty (20) hours before power was restored. In addition to managing many outages caused by the heavy snow LWL personnel responded to numerous water system alarms caused by the heavy rain. DPW crews were very responsive to LWL requests and they assisted restoration efforts by clearing many of the roadways of debris that resulted in LWL expediting repairs. A letter (via email) was sent to the Town Manager making town officials aware of the assistance provide by their DPW crew and thanking them for their efforts.
This past weekend on Sunday afternoon severe winds felled trees across overhead lines causing isolated outages in the Partridge Lake and North Littleton Road vicinity. Power was restored to the affected area by early Monday morning.
LWL personnel had to work long hours over the past two (2) weeks restoring power and keeping the water safety to drink. They were presented with several hazardous situations while clearing the lines and working in closer proximity to turbulent water.
All restoration efforts were accomplished in a safe, professional and efficient manner that minimized outage duration. It will take some time to restore the systems to pre Ėstorm conditions though some repairs will result in overall system betterment.
2. A building permit will be submitted to the Town of Littleton for the construction of a new storage building adjacent to the Quonset hut. The intended purpose is to provide overhead cover and some margin of security for the wooden wire reels. If left exposed to the weather the wooden reels over time deteriorate, making them potentially unsafe to handle, and unpredictable to use under tension, as the reels core could collapse when the wire is removed. A detailed construction plan will be presented to the BOC at a later date.
1. The BOC discussed soliciting bids for wholesale power supply to hedge against spot market volatility and authorized Superintendent Considine to coordinate with La Capra Associates and solicit request for proposals.
Following some more discussion about the current price fluctuations in oil and natural gas market the BOC agreed that the remainder of the 2014 power supply should be hedged to a 95% level. Additional RPFs to hedge pricing for 2015, 2016 and 2017 at about 50% of load is to be solicited and secured if pricing is favorable.
2. Commissioner Moore stated that engineers representing Loweís Home Improvements presented a proposed project to the Littleton Planning board that would address traffic around the Exit 42 area.
Superintendent Considine stated that he and Mr. Herrington met the Lowes engineers on site a couple of weeks ago and reviewed the proposed plan with them. The project construction limits are from Old County Road to the interstate bridges and includes the relocation and realignment of the southbound interstate ramps. Pavement work/ overlay will extend out beyond this limit and would encompass the roadway between the Wal-Mart Drive and the Dellís Road intersection.
A new traffic signal will be installed at the end of the Exit 42 SB off ramp adjacent to the bridge that is suppose synchronize traffic flow through this area . At a later date an additional project (town/ state) is planned for the Old County Road intersection that includes the MacDonaldís drive redesign.
Commissioner Ross made a motion to adjourn the meeting, seconded by
The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0.
Meeting adjourned at 2:35 p.m.
The regularly scheduled Commissionerís meeting is held twice monthly on the first and third Monday, at 1:00 p.m., in the Departmentís conference room.