2018 January Utilities minutes

 Utility Meeting Minutes

January 18, 2018

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Cindy Endicott at 6:00 p.m.  Present for the meeting were Chairman Endicott, Commission member Jayme Heim, Clerk Joan Jauss, and Joe Jurewicz from MSA.  List of public attached.

Approval of Minutes: The November 20, 2017 Utility Commission minutes and the December 12, 2017 I & I minutes were approved with a motion from Jayme and second by Cindy.

Business from the floor: Joan informed Cindy her term is about to expire on the Utility Commission.  Joan asked Cindy if she would be interested in being re-appointed, Cindy stated yes.  Joan will bring to the next Council meeting for approval.

Correspondence: Joan shared a copy of the response letter sent to WJA Enterprises asking about the sewer rate increase.  Joan read the letter the City received from WJA Enterprise letter into record.

City of Duluth water rate increase: John W. stated the letter to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has been put on hold as there is going to be a meeting with the City of Duluth, Hermantown, and Proctor this week to discuss the water rate increases.  Cindy shared that at the Council meeting she inquired as to why we were sending the letter as it is very expensive to do a rate study.  She stated she was informed it was a formality, as the City knows it will be rejected by the MPUC.  Joan stated in her discussion with the City Attorney if we have to go to a hearing with the MPCU it would cost at least $100,000.  John W. stated we are waiting to see what is said at the meeting this week with the City of Duluth.

MSA and contractors: Joan received a request from a contractor inquiring if the City would hire its engineer and the engineer draw the plans for the contractor for a project.  The contractor would pay the City.  Joe stated it is a conflict of interest to work directly with a contractor who is doing work in the City.  If the City agreed to have MSA to do the contractors drawing, a developer agreement, including escrow, would need to be done.  Joe stated this is common in the metro area; it is not common around here.  Joe stated the contractor would contract with the City and the City would contract with MSA.  Cindy and Jayme both agreed this would be ok, as then the drawings would be done correctly.  John W. stated who would the engineer answer to; the contractor or City and the engineer could only do the engineering plan, not the whole project.  Cindy asked if a change order was needed who would be responsible, could the contractor say it was the engineers fault and if so, who would be liable for the cost.  Greg stated he feels the contractor should get a separate engineer.  John G. stated if the developer agreement is done correctly, he feels it would be ok.  It was agreed we need to do more inquiring with the City Attorney.  Joan will research and bring back to Council.

3rd Ave. South sewer: Joe shared that the project is out for bid, bid opening in February 7th at 2:00 pm.  Joe has spoken to some contractors on the project that are interested in bidding on it.  Joan shared that Peter at the PFA is leaving, so Joe is going to email the new contact and ensure all financing is still on track for this project and the E. Calvary water project.

2017 sewer flow chart: Joe shared a flow chart showing the City’s sewer flows for the last five years.  It shows that our flows have increased and our peaks are lower.  This means we are making progress on the I & I repairs we have been doing.

Resolution 18-01-03 Designating authorization for account adjustments for utilities: Joan shared a copy of the proposed resolution 18-01-03 designating authorization for account adjustments for utility accounts.  This would enable the clerk to make account adjustments up to $500 for bad meters, summer sewer policy, and internal clerical errors.  Joan explained for bad meters, she averages the previous 12 months usage and credits the high months with the average, for the summer sewer policy she uses the policy written, for the clerical errors she adjusts as needed to correct the accounts, all other issues would be brought to the Utility Commission for an adjustment decision.  Cindy stated if adjustments are made, are we being consistent.  Jayme recommend the way the adjustments are being done be put in writing, Joan will do so.  Joan is asking the Commission if they would recommend the resolution to Council, the Commission recommended the resolution.  Joan will bring to Council for approval.  There was also some discussion on delinquent accounts, it was agreed we will need to look at our policy for this at a future meeting.

WLSSD grant opportunities: Joan shared during the WLSSD meeting in January, Dan Belden stated they are going to be giving out $20,000 in grants, this can be used for various projects, including to help with the implementation of the new I & I requirements.  Joan asked if we should apply for a grant to do GIS mapping for our water and sewer system, including connections.  Everyone agreed this was a good idea; Joe will work up an estimate of what the grant amount would need to be.  John W. stated we could do all the road culverts too.  Joe will bring his tablet to the next Utility meeting so we can see what it would look like; he will show us what they did for Esko.  Joe stated he will write the grant application for the city at no cost.

I&I meeting: Cindy requested to set up a date to have another I&I meeting to work on the new WLSSD mandates.  It was agreed to have the meeting on March 13, 2018 at 6:00 pm.

Next meeting date: The next Utilities meeting will be February 13, 2018.

Having nothing further to discuss a motion was made by Cindy to adjourn the meeting with a second by Jayme.  All vote in favor.  Motion passed.