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 December 7, 2009 in the Littleton Water and Light Department (LWL) conference room. Present were Commissioner Ralph Ross, Commissioner Eddy Moore, Commissioner Perry Goodell, Financial Services Director Cheryl Wilkins and Superintendent Thomas Considine.
The minutes of November 23, 2009 regularly scheduled Commissioners meeting were reviewed. Commissioner Goodell made a motion to accept the minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Moore.
The vote was in favor 3-0-0.
Ms. Veronica Francis property owner and resident at 11 Hillside Avenue in Littleton stated that the Town of Littleton Board of Selectmen recommended that she discuss her water service line dispute with the LWL BOC.
Commissioner Moore stated that due to his position on several Town of Littleton boards he feels that a conflict of interest exists and that he would not participate in any discussion relative to this dispute.
Ms. Francis stated that her water service comes from West Main Street and crosses under property owned by the Beal House. Recent changes made on this property over the summer (construction of a parking lot) have placed her water service in danger of freezing due to inadequate ground cover over the line. Ms. Francis believes that this is a direct result of the new parking lot construction and has asked the owner to resolve the situation. To date the owner has refused and contends that the repair/ replacement is her responsibility. In addition to the minimal ground cover over the pipe vehicle access to the parking lot travel over the service that will cause frost to penetrate deeper and faster. She has brought her concerns before the Littleton select board as an abutter and plans to pursue civil action. But it will take time to resolve and she is afraid the water pipe will freeze before a decision is made. Ms. Francis requested that the BOC allow her to be placed on the running water program as and interim measure until a final resolution can be reached.
Following a brief discussion both Commissioner Ross and Commissioner Goodell agreed to place 11 Hillside Avenue on the running water program for the 2009 – 2010 winter season only.
Superintendent Considine advised Ms. Francis that she would receive a letter of instruction from LWL that details the conditions of the program and that the program is scheduled to begin on January 1, 2010.
Mr. Steve Lafrance, representing Horizons Engineering, reviewed the final engineering drawings with the BOC for the new Oak Hill Reservoir. The only revisions made were that a building was added in place of an underground vault to house the altitude valve. LWL would also be responsible for power supply to the new building, wiring and SCADA. The NHDES wetlands permit was submitted and Kellogg Surveying has been contacted in regard to completing the proposed boundary survey for the owners in preparation for the .92 - acre lot line adjustment required for the new concrete tank.
The BOC discussed several funding alternatives with Mr. Lafrance. NH Rural Water offers a few very attractive grants at this time although LWL does not qualify, as LWL water rates are to low. To qualify for Rural Water grant LWL rates would have to increase over forty (40) percent though combining several large projects such has developing the ground water well field at the old airport may make sense as the grant is for 75% of total construction costs. A NHDES loan through the State of NH revolving fund might be LWL only avenue for funding.
The BOC agreed to research two (2) courses of possible funding: 1) using rural water funded grant at 75% that will require bundling several large projects (Oak Hill Reservoir and Airport Ground water well field development), 2) NHDES SRF loan for the reservoir only.
Superintendent Considine requested a proposal from Horizons to provide a details review of the proposed well field to attain an estimated cost of construction.
FINANCIAL DIRECTORS REPORT:
Mrs. Wilkins reviewed the financial statements for the month ending October 2009 with the Commissioners. Several discrepancies as compared to budget were discussed and explained by Mrs. Wilkins.
1. The 2009 – 2010 running water program customers were reviewed with the BOC. As a result of the BOC meeting with Ms. Francis, 11 Hillside Avenue shall be added to the program for one (1) year. Letters will be sent to each customer on the list this week to notify them that the schedule start date is January 1, 2010.
2. There are fourteen (14) customers that are currently utilizing the electronic paying function (ACH transfers); this total is expected to grow as customers become aware that LWL offers this bill paying option.
3. The 2010 Capital projects request will include estimated costs to replace the water main across the Ammonoosuc River over/ under the Redington Street Bridge.
4. There is no anticipated Town of Littleton sewer line replacements projects schedule for 2010 at this time that LWL is aware of.
1. Superintendent Considine and Mrs. Wilkins briefed the BOC relative to the DRAFT 2010 Operating and Maintenance (O&M) budget. As this is the BOC first review of the budget pending approval of the budget would take place at a proceeding meeting.
Generally, the 2010 revenue projections are flat with respect to 2009 projected revenues for both sections. Revenues for 2009 are projected to be 5% and 8% less when compared to 2008 for water and electric respectively.
Overall, the 2010 expenses are projected slightly above the projected 2009 expenses. The increase is attributed and greatly depends on the power supply spot market remaining favorable throughout the region and partly affected by contractual labor obligations.
In summary the 2010 combined O&M budget projection when compared to 2009 shows a drop in revenues of 0.3%, an increase in expenses of about 1% and a margin above expenses of 1.4 %.
Superintendent Considine stated that the actual projections will most likely vary and will greatly depend on revenues generated by product sales to customers. Several expense account lines in 2009 were inflated greatly by the department’s involvement in connection with the Littleton Main Street and other infrastructure projects supported by the Department, which, we do not, anticipated incurring in 2010.
Following some discussion by the BOC in regard to the proposed 2010 O & M budget as presented, the BOC agreed to review the proposed capital projects and equipment requests for 2010.
2. The 2010 capital expenditures proposed amount is approximately $349,000. The most costly items are a new substation transformer (estimated at $ 100,000), Redington Street Bridge crossing (estimated at $75,000), several new vacuum operated circuit breakers (estimate at $60,000), a new pick up to replace truck 4 and to continue with the ARM electric and water meter program (estimated at $25,000).
The BOC commented on several of the proposed projects/ equipment and inquired as to the funding mechanism proposed with a flat budget.
Superintendent Considine stated that as long as we can stay with our O&M budget we should be able to fund everything on the proposed list with minimal impact on our reserves similar to that used in 2009. The only expect drawdown of our reserves will be for the Main Street water infrastructure upgrade ($115,000) and these funds were previously encumbered. Should the budget falter then we would reduce the discretionary spending available for capital expenditures.
Superintendent Considine suggested that the rates for both water and electric service remain unchanged going into the first quarter of 2010 and then reassess the Departments margins based of first quarter sales/ earnings.
The BOC agreed that they would considered the proposed 2010 O&M budget and Capital requests as proposed for comment at a later meeting.
3. Superintendent Considine stated that La Capra Associates will present the regional power supply projections at the December 21, 2009 regular Commissioners meeting. This update will give the BOC a snap shot of what the power supply spot market may look like in the upcoming year.
1. Commissioner Moore stated that he was approached with regard to hanging Christmas lights on the new street light poles along Main Street. Commissioner Moore said that he would deliver the message only, but would not commit the LWL to any action without first consult the BOC.
Superintendent Considine stated that the lists of “favors” that LWL does for the Town, Main Street and Chamber continues to grow and that LWL should not have to continually absorb any hard costs. As the height of the new poles along Main Street is considerable shorter than the old poles a LWL line truck may not be feasible to operate in this manner. A smaller lift or ladder may be more cost effective. LWL would make an assessment.
After a length discussion the BOC agreed to hang the Christmas lighting this year but did not commit the LWL in the future.
2. The BOC approved Superintendent Considine request to have a Christmas Luncheon provided in house for employees. The BOC stated that times are hard and the budget is lean and it would not be appropriate to do otherwise.
Commissioner Goodell made a motion to adjourn the meeting, seconded by
The vote was in favor 3-0-0.
Meeting adjourned at 3:30 p.m.
The regularly scheduled Commissioner’s meeting is held twice monthly on the first and third Monday, at 1:00 p.m., in the Department’s conference room.