MINUTES OF THE OPERATING MEETING
JULY 28, 2009
Chairwoman Pavlini called the meeting of the
Bernards Township Sewerage Authority to order at 6:02 p.m. on July 28, 2009 in
the Conference Room of the
MEMBERS PRESENT: Ms. Boquist; Mr. Carpenter; Mr. Malay; Ms. Pavlini
MEMBERS ABSENT: Ms. Gaziano
STAFF PRESENT: Mr. Peter Messina, Administrator; Mr. Glen Plesnarski, BTSA Collections Supervisor; Mr. John Belardo, Esq., BTSA Attorney; Mr. Nicholas Valese, Hatch Mott MacDonald
Chairwoman Pavlini read the following statement: “Adequate notice of this meeting was posted on the bulletin board in the Municipal Building, One Collyer Lane, Basking Ridge, New Jersey; e-mailed to the Bernardsville News, Bernardsville, and faxed to the Courier News, Bridgewater, New Jersey, and was filed with the Township Clerk, all on December 22, 2008. Any motion to go into closed session will be deemed to include a motion that the matters discussed at such closed session will be disclosed to the public when such matters are finally determined and there is no further reason to prohibit the public disclosure of information relating to such matters.”
a. June 23, 2009 – Regular Meeting Minutes
Motioned by Mr. Carpenter, seconded by Ms. Boquist to Approve the Regular Meeting Minutes dated June 23, 2009.
Aye: Ms. Boquist; Mr. Carpenter; Ms. Pavlini
Abstain: Mr. Malay
b. June 23, 2009 – Closed Session Meeting Minutes
Authority members agreed to revisit these minutes during the August BTSA meeting.
Mr. Messina advised Authority members of a
letter that he received from legal counsel on behalf of the Warren Township
Sewerage Authority (WTSA). WTSA has
capacity at its Stage V Facility in excess of that which is required, thus the
WTSA would like to enter into an agreement under which capacity would be made
available to properties within
Mr. Messina advised Authority members that he
forwarded a letter to WTSA’s legal counsel stating that the BTSA is not
interested in allowing the WTSA to provide sewer service to properties within
Mr. Messina explained that according to HMM’s 2nd quarter wastewater flow estimates, the BTSA is currently within normal limitations, below 2.5 mgd. However, when projecting future additions, the demand could reach an estimated 2.7 mgd, thus the BTSA must remain conservative about accepting new connections.
Mr. Malay asked Mr. Messina if the residents of
Mr. Messina stated that he and Mr. McArthur
are enthusiastic about the prospect of the Solar Farm initiative in
Mr. Messina recommended utilizing Metro
Energy Solutions, the firm responsible for the 4.2 million dollar Solar Farm in
Ms. Pavlini questioned whether or not the expense of the project should be funded by the BTSA surplus or via financing. Mr. Messina stated that the financial reward would be lessened due to the cost of repaying the financing. Mr. Malay recommended using the surplus funds. Mr. Messina confirmed that there are currently 20 million dollars in surplus. Mr. Carpenter questioned whether or not it is responsible management to continue to amass such a surplus and not utilize it. Mr. Messina reminded Authority members that the surplus was grown, in part, to prepare for the potentially costly phosphorous issue, which the Authority has been able to address through the less costly pilot study. Ms. Boquist stated that the BTSA should be initiating programs that will benefit current residents, as opposed to those in the future.
Mr. Messina stated that the solar farm could be functional by next year. Mr. Carpenter and Mr. Plesnarski questioned how much maintenance would be involved with the project. Mr. Messina stated that the rain cleans the solar panels naturally, however a maintenance management firm could be retained to address issues that are typically already covered by the warranty. Mr. Malay wondered whether or not many of the parts used in the system would likely need to be updated within the next 25 years. Mr. Messina stated that he has found that the panels have a 25 year life and the electrical components over 15 years.
Motioned by Mr. Carpenter, seconded by Mr. Malay to Approve the Resolution # 0934,
Aye: Ms. Boquist; Mr. Carpenter; Mr. Malay; Ms. Pavlini
Mr. Messina explained that Sky Morehouse, P.E., recommended a change order in the amount of $16,855.00, 2.2% of the total contract price, in support of the SCADA project. Mr. Messina further stated that the additional expenses all represent unforeseeable electrical issues that arose once the project was underway. According to Mr. Morehouse, the improvements addressed within the change order would ultimately improve the functionality of the system, thus he strongly recommends making them.
Motioned by Mr. Carpenter, seconded by Mr. Malay to Approve the Resolution # 0935, Authorizing that the contract for construction services for the SCADA project awarded to DeMaio Electrical Company, Inc. on April 21, 2008, via resolution # 0821, be amended in the amount of $16,855, thereby revising the original contract price from $763,500 to $780,355.
Aye: Mr. Carpenter; Mr. Malay; Ms. Pavlini
Nay: Ms. Boquist
Mr. Messina explained that he and Mr. McArthur are in the process of preparing the 2010 BTSA budget. The user fee is a component of the budget. In response to Ms. Boquist’s earlier request to consider a fee reduction for senior citizens, Mr. Belardo explained the classification process as it relates to a reduction/abatement of sewage fees. The state statute on the issue defines a senior citizen as anyone: 1. Age 65 or older; 2. Under the age of 65 and permanently disabled per Federal SSI standards; 3. Disabled under any Federal law administered by the Department of Veteran Affairs if the disability is 60% or more; 4. Has a total income not in excess of $10,000 per year inclusive of Federal Social Security, pension, disability, or retirement program.
Mr. Malay questioned what type of tax credit Peggy Warren, Tax Collector, gives senior citizens. Mr. Messina confirmed that in the tax category, senior citizens receive a $250 flat fee reduction, however for those seniors who are considered “super-poor”, their taxes are frozen. Mr. Belardo reminded Authority members that tax laws might be different than sewage authority laws.
Ms. Boquist stated that if the statute states that seniors may receive permanent fee abatement, then it is simply a policy decision. She reminded Authority members that seniors have contributed into the system all of their lives and that the State gives seniors breaks in other areas. She expressed frustration that most of the money in the town benefits children, and not seniors, who cause less of a strain on the sewage system. She recommended that some of the money in surplus go back to the seniors, who have contributed to it the longest. In addition to providing financial assistance to seniors, a reduction or abatement could also dissuade people from leaving the area. Ms. Boquist would like to reward the current residents before implementing initiatives toward saving in the future.
Mr. Carpenter opposed a fee reduction or abatement exclusively for seniors. Although he expressed concern for those in financial distress, he stated that he does not feel that the Sewage Authority should be used as a means of enacting “social justice”. Additionally, when creating the budget, all potential expenses must be accounted for first, and then the user fees should be based on what is needed to cover those expenses. Mr. Carpenter would like to see everyone treated equally and give everyone “cost-effective” services while still operating as efficiently as possible.
Mr. Malay stated that he is in favor of a universal fee reduction if the budget analysis provides for it. He reminded Authority members that seniors are not the only people who are struggling financially. He did, however, express support of a reduction for those who the state considers to be “in-need”. Mr. Messina expressed concern about how to find and classify people as such. He noted that seniors, in general, would need to be sought out in order to implement a reduction. He also questioned how many seniors might be outside of the sewer service area.
Mr. Malay recommended revisiting the issue of moving toward a usage-based fee schedule at some point in the future.
Mr. Valese referred to his Consulting Engineer’s report and informed the Authority that:
· Phosphorous Pilot Study – The pilot study was started during the first week of June. The alum dosage is presently approximately 200 gpd and to date the ph has been satisfactory and the addition of other chemicals has not been necessary. Based on recent data the phosphorous levels are slightly higher that 0.76 mg/l and the dosage of alum will need to be increased. The amount of additional sludge produced with the process is not known at this time and will be evaluated at the end of the pilot trials.
· Final NJPDES General Permit – The status of the NJPDES Permit remains the same as previously reported. HMM identified two major issues with the Final NJPDES Permit for the plant. The first was the imposing of a more stringent Chronic Toxicity Limit, which HMM objected to in the November 7, 2008 comments on the Draft Permit. The second issue was the imposition of Nitrate Limits and compliance schedule in the permit. As requested, HMM had submitted to the NJDEP on January 20, 2009 an Adjudicatory Hearing and Stay Request for the NJDEP’s consideration of the above items. The BTSA received a letter from the NJDEP dated February 5, 2009 denying the Stay of these issues, citing no immediate financial or enforcement liability due to the time limit for compliance.
Mr. Messina and Mr. Belardo advised Authority members of a recent court decision on the appeal of the Passaic River Basin TMDL for phosphorous, which creates the possibility that seasonal (summer season only) limits on phosphorous may eventually be adopted. The case has been remanded to an Administrative Law Judge for further scientific fact-finding. Mr. Messina assured Authority members that the pilot study remains beneficial.
Mr. Messina will keep Authority members advised of the status of this litigation.
Mr. Plesnarski informed the Authority of the following:
Mr. Plesnarski provided updates on the following projects:
Valley Road Pump Station: Test pits dug and force main located.
SCADA System – DeMaio Electric/Morehouse Engineering: Inlet control center completed.
I&I: Obtaining pricing for four leak repairs in the Rebel Hill area.
Emergency Generator: Waiting for the installation of the generator.
Transformer Install: Waiting for the installation of the generator.
Belt Filter Pressformer Install: Design meeting held with T&M and Komline.
Motioned by Mr. Malay, seconded by Ms. Boquist to approve the Operator’s Report – July 2009 (reporting on June 2009 activities).
Aye: Ms. Boquist; Mr. Carpenter; Mr. Malay; Ms. Pavlini
Motioned by Ms. Boquist, seconded by Mr. Malay to approve the Operating Bills as follows:
a. Accounts Payable Current - $ 213,483.79
b. Accounts Payable Reserve - $ 306,703.46
c. Payroll Current - $ 75,401.10
d. Payroll Reserves - $ -0-
e. Total Operating - $ 595,588.35
GRAND TOTAL - $ 613,116.83
Aye: Ms. Boquist; Mr. Carpenter; Mr. Malay; Ms. Pavlini
Motioned by Mr. Carpenter, seconded by Mr. Malay to adjourn at 7:12 p.m.