March 2015

A regular meeting of the Board of The Plum Creek Municipal Authority was held on March 17, 2015 at the Plum Creek Municipal Authority Business Office Building, South Manheim Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

Board members present at the meeting were Jim Ridderhoff, Tom Nagle, Jerry Weiss, and Matt Gruber. Also in attendance were Dave Bright (PCMA Engineer), Joe Zerbe (PCMA Attorney), Mike Stewart (PCMA Operations Manager), property owner George Chistakoff, and Patrick O’Boyle.

Jim Ridderhoff called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.

The minutes of the prior meeting held in January, 2015 were reviewed and accepted by motion of Jerry Weiss, seconded by Matt Gruber, carried by all.

The Treasurer's reports for January 2015 and February 2015 were reviewed and accepted by motion of Jerry Weiss, seconded by Matt Gruber, carried by all.

Mike Stewart reviewed his written report relating to managerial matters (submitted to the Board prior to the meeting) which addressed water and sewage operations. In water matters, he reported that:

  • Dave Bonkovich was called in to perform leak detection.
  • Leaks continued to develop as repairs were being conducted. The water supply became critical at the end of February. Two main breaks were discovered that were losing approximately 100,000 gallons each per day. Other smaller leaks were found as well. The first leak repair stopped the storage tanks from dropping, and the second major repair allowed the tanks to begin filling again.
  • A large number of meters had to be repaired or replaced due to freezing, and many homes experienced broken pipes with meters unaffected.
  • Dave Bonkovich will be returning to find more leaks.
In sewage matters, Mike reported that:
  • The long period of cold weather and freezing temperatures adversely affected a number of septic systems due to frozen laterals and sand mound distribution piping.
  • The pickup truck is operational and in service.
Jerry asked if the major leaks were due to freezing and thawing, resulting in the frost line going below the normal 3-1/2 feet deep, or were they because the water pipes were just getting older. Mike said it was a combination of both. Mike said he didn’t think the two big main breaks were due to the cold temperatures because the pipes were well below the frost line. Jerry also asked if there are more leaks now than in the past three or four years. Mike said, other than the two main breaks happening at the same time, the extremely cold weather makes it somewhat worse, but there are leaks every year after the freezing and the thawing occurs. Jerry asked if it would be beneficial to replace a larger area of piping where leaks occur to help prevent more leaks in the future. Mike said the main breaks are never concentrated in one area, and Dave Bright said that the piping that’s in the ground, given that it was installed properly, is not near the end of its shelf life and should be good for many more years. Mike said that if the piping adjoining a leak looks like it’s weak or damaged, they do replace that section at the same time the leak is repaired. Mike also said the piping is replaced with ductile iron.

In engineering matters, Dave Bright said he had nothing to report. He added that it might be worthwhile to go back and look to see where and when main breaks were repaired to do a cost analysis and to see if there’s a pattern. Mike said there were only seven or eight main breaks over the past 19 years or so, and that most of the leaks are on service lines. He added that a lot of service lines were replaced in the Montana Cove area, even if they that were not connected to homes, because so many lines were breaking in that area. Mike also said that this was the first time we had two main breaks at the same time, and that’s what put the water supply in jeopardy. Also, it was hard to find the leaks because there was so much snow and frost on the ground

In legal matters, Joe Zerbe said he addressed routine matters such as filing & satisfying liens but, other than that, he had nothing to report.

The 2014 write-off of delinquent accounts in the amount of $15,078.15 for the years 2009 and prior was approved by motion of Tom Nagle, seconded by Jerry Weiss, carried by all.

Upon motion by Tom Nagle, seconded by Jerry Weiss, the section in the PCMA Employee manual that addressed insurance waivers and reimbursements for out-of-pocket medical expenses was rescinded due to new reimbursement laws determined by the IRS and Obamacare.

Upon motion by Tom Nagle, seconded by Matt Gruber, carried by all, the Board decided that if an employee is entitled to a benefit offered by the PCMA, and opts out of receiving it, the Board will determine, at its discretion, whether or not any consideration will be given to that employee, and in what manner, as decided on a case-by-case basis.

Upon motion by Tom Nagle, seconded by Jerry Weiss, and carried by all, the updated employee manual was approved and adopted as amended by motions.

It was noted that the IRS and Obamacare regulations do not restrict giving reimbursements of any kind, as long as no specification is given that the reimbursement must be used for anything medical related.

Mike asked the Board to consider meter repair charges for customers needing meter repairs that are the result of freezing during the winter or other neglectful actions. Mike said the biggest problem, other than all the time required to go to all the homes with meters that broke due to freezing, the old style meters are no longer available. The new style meters are all one unit and there are no bottom plates to replace, which is the part of the meter that generally broke when a meter froze. Frozen meters, or meters that break due to negligence, will now have to be replaced in their entirety, and the cost of a whole meter is a lot higher than just a bottom plate. Mike also said that a lot of the people who have frozen meters are repeat customers, and they will need a new meter every spring.

After discussing the frozen meter problems at length, the Board decided, upon motion by Tom Nagle, seconded by Matt Gruber, and carried by all, that customers needing meter repairs that are the result of freezing or other neglectful actions will be charged a flat fee of $75 plus the cost of parts for each occurrence.

Jen submitted a quote for an updated security system for the PCMA which was received from Knight Security Systems, which is based in Harrisburg. A representative from Knight Security came to the PCMA and spent considerable time looking at all the Authority’s premises to decide what would be needed. The Board reviewed the proposal at length to determine if and how to proceed. Upon motion by Jim Ridderhoff, seconded by Matt Gruber, and carried by all, the Board approved a security setup and installation at a cost of $9,913.00. Jen said she would get references and check them before proceeding.

It was noted that the yearly audit for 2014 has been completed except for the final reports.

Jerry asked Attorney Zerbe about the new Sandusky law that was put into effect, and if it would affect any of the PCMA’s employees. He said the law requires more in-depth background checks, welfare checks, and fingerprinting of employees who might come in contact with children in a community. Joe Zerbe said he would check into the law requirements and report back with his findings.

Property owner George Chistakoff asked about the recent boil advisories and leak repairs. Jerry said the problem was that we had two major main breaks at the same time, and it took some time to locate them because of weather conditions. Rarely do two large main breaks occur simultaneously, and it put a big strain on the water supply. Tom Nagle also explained that any time system repairs are performed that require a main line being open, a boil advisory is mandated by state law, and it does not mean that something is wrong with the water supply. Mr. Chistakoff said that he felt that communications break down sometimes and the community will often question the information they get. Jen said the LWPOA was helping to get information to the people in the community because the LWPOA office has a lot more customer emails than we have. The PCMA has asked for people to submit their email addresses, but only about 350 customers have provided them. When the LWPOA offered to help, we accepted. She said she was updating the LWPOA every day and they were giving out correct information, including when the PCMA was almost out of water due to the leaks in the system. Jen also said that she provides updated information throughout the day via the PCMA’s website, but very few people go there to see what’s happening with the leak repairs. She said she always does community voice alerts when major changes take place, and always when boil alerts are issued and lifted.

There being no further business, Matt Gruber motioned for adjournment, Jerry Weiss seconded the motion, carried by all. The meeting was adjourned by Jim Ridderhoff at 7:30 pm.

Meeting minutes were taken, prepared, and submitted by Jennifer Hoy.

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