December 2020

A regular meeting of the Board of The Plum Creek Municipal Authority was held on December 22, 2020 via a Zoom meeting.

Board members present (via Zoom) at the meeting were Ryan Achenbach, Jerry Weiss, Matt Gruber, and Corby Lewis. Also, in attendance were Joe Zerbe (PCMA Attorney), Nancy Wesner (PCMA Office), Mike Kreiser (SES), Jamie Lorah (SSM), and property owners – Joe Haggerty, Jack Brennan, David Mengel, Tom.

Ryan Achenbach will be hosting the Zoom meeting. Ryan has it set up that he will not mute anybody (Board members or the public) but was going to try and follow a format and asked for everybody’s patience. We are doing our first public Board meeting, in a long time, and this is our first public meeting via Zoom. Ryan will be putting the meeting through the agenda - the person who normally does that (Jim Ridderhoff) is not going to be available tonight. We are going to go through the different items on the agenda and then have an entire public comment period at the end.

Ryan Achenbach called the meeting to order at 6:05 p.m.

The minutes for the February 2020 meeting were accepted by motion of Corby Lewis, seconded by Jerry Weiss, carried by all. The addendum for meetings, March 2020 to November 2020, that were not held due to COVID-19 and the limited capacity that we would have had available at the Plum Creek office (where we normally hold our meetings), were accepted by motion of Ryan Achenbach, seconded by Corby Lewis, carried by all.

Corby Lewis had one question on the October’s Treasurer’s report – there was a Moyer’s Car Care bill for $4,618.00 on October 12, 2020 for Ranger repairs. Corby said that is an extensive bill. Nancy said she would pull the bill and email it to the Board members.

The Treasurer's reports from February 2020 through November 2020 were reviewed and accepted by motion of Jerry Weiss, seconded by Matt Gruber, carried by all.

Mike Kreiser (SES), submitted a written manager’s report to the Board prior to the meeting:

  • Copies of the following information has been submitted by SES to PA DEP on the authority’s behalf and are viewable via PA DEP website via the eDMR.
    • Discharge monitoring report and Discharge monitoring report supplemental report
  • There have been no water system violations and no wastewater system violations during this time.
  • Dave Smith has retired from SES. Nick is there and I have my manager Matt there. They are fulfilling the needs and working with Joe. Nothing has changed at this point in time. They are keeping me up to date of what is going on.
In water operations, Mike Kreiser (SES) reported that:
  • Continue normal operations.
  • Emergency repair on a service line leak done on 11/2/2020 at lot 2079. Boil water alert was in effect. Also, two service line repairs done at lots 969-970 and lot 1239. Boil alerts have been lifted.
  • We are currently operating 2 wells presently. Our average yield is 221,000 gallons per day.
  • Booster Station at 10.7 PSI, as of November 30, 2020 (14.2 PSI – full).
  • Booster Station: All pumps operational and rotating on monthly basis.
  • Joe Clemas (PCMA) was recommending that one of the wells would be due this year for getting refurbished and then we are in a rotation of every year to refurbish one well. Mike said Joe wanted him to bring it to the attention of the Board and that it should be thought about. If we do not keep the wells clean, we are going to lose the yield and so forth. Mike said it is something to keep on the back burner depending on the Board’s future decisions.
In sewage operations, Mike Kreiser (SES) reported that:
  • Normal operations continue and plant ran well for November 2020.
  • Approximately 25 septic pumps are in the backlog.
  • Moyer Instruments did the annual calibration of the flow meter.
In engineering matters, Jamie Lorah (SSM), said she is only reporting on the sewer side because that is all she is familiar with at the moment. The Act 537 planning efforts have moved ahead since the last time we met. Back in June, we were notified by both townships that they were not interested in administering or taking over their own Act 537 programs or sewage management programs within the township for the parts of Plum Creek (Lake Wynonah community) that were located in their townships. Jamie said in response to that we had to revise the sewage management programs to account for that and we have been working with Jim Ridderhoff.

Jim Ridderhoff had reached out to another entity – Berks Envirotech – about potentially obtaining a proposal to administer the program. Jamie Lorah (SSM) said she knows Jim had done that to try and get some cost numbers together for administering the program on behalf of Plum Creek, so the townships did not have to do it, and Plum Creek would no longer have to administer the program on its own. Jamie said she did meet last month with Berks Envirotech and we did discuss the proposal, some of the cost associated with it, and how they would proceed, so that we could update the sewage management programs in order to satisfy the townships.

Jamie Lorah (SSM) said the townships received revised copies, earlier today, of the entire Act 537 plan update for both townships and a copy was forwarded to Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) - Scott Novatnak. Jamie said Scott is in the sewage planning program – previously we had a contact there, Rob Stermer, but he is longer with DEP. Rob retired in the past year in fact he might have retired in 2019. By the time we reached out to Rob with revised plans and to discuss the plan of action moving forward he had already left. So, Scott is the person taking over his work because right now they are short-handed in the planning program.

Jamie Lorah (SSM) said Scott Novatnak (DEP) got a copy and if he is satisfied, and the townships are satisfied, with what Jamie Lorah (SSM) hopes is the final revision to these documents, then we can go into a public comment period. We are required to do a minimum of 30-day public comment period. The notice will be posted in the local newspaper at which point you will need to make the documents available at both the township offices and at the Plum Creek Municipal Authority office in case individuals want to review those plans and make any comments. Jamie said then we compile those comments, and it gets submitted formally to DEP with the township signature execution on all those documents.

Jamie Lorah (SSM) said she is hoping this last phase moves a lot quicker than the previous phases. The townships were not meeting because of COVID or limited staff and they were not making any decisions.

Jamie Lorah (SSM) said Scot McCaffrey (SEO) for both townships, he is with SDE (System Design Engineering), had not been reaching out to us or responding to us with any comments about the sewage management plan so we kind of had to light a fire last month and really push the issue. He finally got back to us last week or the week before and we were able to make these revisions and get them out to the townships again.

Corby Lewis said the Board received paperwork for the Berks Envirotech proposal and he had read through it and it seems like a pretty good proposal.

Jamie Lorah (SSM) said her own personal experience with Berks Envirotech (she thinks that they are now known as Envirotech & Associates) is they have local folks who are SEO’s (Sewage Enforcement Officer) or SEO’s in training who can do inspections on the systems. The owner is knowledgeable, he has been in business for over thirty years, and he has some trainees that he has working for him. One is in Schuylkill County and he is proposing that individual would be doing a lot of the inspection work for any repair needs in the systems. The notification would then go to the homeowners. The SEO for the townships would then be responsible for ensuring that the necessary repairs are made, and that the documentation is given to the Authority, their administrator, and to DEP, if systems must be replaced.

In legal matters, Joe Zerbe said routine legal matters were addressed and he has been helping Jen and Nancy with questions about the lien process, during COVID. Joe also had some telephone conferences with the South Manheim township solicitor which he informed the Board about via email a few months ago. A list of properties was submitted to the tax claim bureau for the tax upset sale.

Ryan Achenbach said the Board was presented with the preliminary budget for 2021. Ryan said Corby Lewis said that we need to approve the budget for next year before the end of this year. Joe Zerbe said the budget should be approved before the end of the year. Joe said if the budget would not get approved at tonight’s meeting then you would have to hold a special meeting between now and the end of the year. Ryan said there was only a slight difference in expected sewage revenue, and we are under the understanding that is most likely due to the expected closing of the sewage operations. We realize that things have been moving quite a bit slower in regard to COVID impacting how everything is going through with the townships and with us and that might come into play and we might have to possibly amend that in the future. Ryan said it appeared to him and the other Board members that the 2021 budget fell in line with the 2020 budget.

Upon motion by Jerry Weiss, seconded by Matt Gruber, and carried by all, the 2021 Budget prepared by Jim Ridderhoff was reviewed and approved.

Ryan Achenbach noted that the 2019 audit report was completed and received by the Board members prior to the Board meeting.

Ryan Achenbach wanted to acknowledge to the public – we received (as a Board) a packet of information to prepare us for this first public meeting, in quite some time, and it was extensive between all the treasurer’s reports and everything - we had quite a bit to go through. Ryan did notice when going through the final part of the packet it also included some questions and comments from the public. Some of them are extensive – everything from questions from Attorney Charles Stopp (who is a member in the lake) regarding what the closing process might be like. Mr. Stopp had some questions about how the vehicles and things would be liquidated.

Ryan Achenbach said there was an issue with one property owner who had an incident with their septic tank with a pet. Obviously, these were things that maybe we can table till we are able to possibly hold a workshop to talk about these things. The Board agreed to table these matters till a later date.

Ryan Achenbach said one thing from February’s meeting was Gary Schultz had a question at that time – what do we use to replace the materials when we have a water main break in the development. We got an answer from Pat Aungst (he does the repairs) …. when repairs are completed, we use SDR21 which is heavier then schedule 40 and they also use ductile iron into existing valves or fittings and then at times Joe (PCMA) also provides a supply.

Ryan Achenbach moved to the public comment period. Ryan said there are some options, if you know how to use Zoom, you can do a process called raising your hand. If you are on a smart phone all you have to do is go to your screen, go to the more options, and it is one of the options in there it gives an indicator on my screen as the host. You can also go under your participants tab on your computer and raise your hand.

Joe Haggerty said he would like a copy of the treasurer’s report, audit report, and the preliminary budget. Nancy said the office is closed to the public but if Joe would call ahead, she would meet him outside with the copies.

Joe Haggerty asked Jamie Lorah (SSM) about the Berks Envirotech proposal and if she knew what they were talking about annually to administer that plan. Jamie said she does not know if that has even been reviewed by the Board yet. Jamie Lorah (SSM) said she knows it varies based on the level of effort that they will provide versus what the township SEO will provide. Jamie said she believes at this point it is a nominal fee, it might be $50.00 or $100.00 a year, per property, would go into administering the program. Jamie said the way they are setting it up is that fee would cover the administrator and that would be his inspection (when a pump out is done). So, in the case of those with septic systems, with more traditional septic systems, versus a holding tank that would be once every three years at a minimum. Jamie Lorah (SSM) said the inspection fee would be covered by that fee and he will come out and do the inspection during the pump out and then the same thing with the holding tanks. He would still come out. It would not have to be every time; it would be as many times as they can get out there when the holding tanks are pumped out as well – at minimum it would be once a year that the holding tanks would be inspected it would cover that.

Jamie Lorah (SSM) said now if you had a repair that had to done on the system that would be on your own expense. If there is a repair that needs to be evaluated by a Sewage Enforcement Officer (SEO) the townships SEO would come to your home and review the repair needs and there would be a separate fee that they would charge for that and that is only if you would have a repair that is required. At this point that is what has been discussed and I do not expect any other fees other than when you get the pump out and that would be whatever hauler is contacted – it would be based on their rate at that time.

Joe Haggerty said so these additional inspection fees, if required, for the annual work or every three years or even if there is a problem – these are the types of fees I think are absorbed by Plum Creek today. But going forward these will be billed separately to the property owners – am I understanding this.

Jamie Lorah (SSM) said she is not sure but will defer to Plum Creek on that. Jamie asked Plum Creek does the Authority cover the repair inspections by the SEO or does the homeowner pay for that? Nancy said the PCMA does not have the Authority to go back out and approve/inspect a repair - that is done by the SEO. Joe Haggerty asked when the SEO bills who pays the bill? Nancy said no bills come to Plum Creek Municipal Authority. Joe Haggerty said then there would be no change then from the way it is being paid for today.

Jamie Lorah (SSM) said only an SEO can really certify that a repair has been completed and so if someone needs a repair that SEO would have submitted a bill probably to the homeowner or to the township who then submitted to the homeowner.

Joe Haggerty said the Act 537 draft that you gave them today or yesterday – was that sent electronically? Jamie Lorah (SSM) said yes, the copy that they have right now is electronic, but they may request that we send it to them hard copy. Jamie said it went out this morning. Joe said he thinks since it was introduced here at this meeting, I would request that I can see a copy of that draft. Jamie said that is not up to her. Joe Zerbe said he has not seen the plan and does not know what the status of it is – draft or is it being submitted. Jamie said it is just a draft. Joe Zerbe said they will take it under advisement, and he will talk to the Board members about it. Jamie said because this is a working document it could change again, it has not been approved, it is not something that through the Sunshine Act or law that they are required to submit to you right now because it is not a formal document that has been approved by Plum Creek. Corby Lewis and Ryan Achenbach, Board Members, said they have not seen it yet. Ryan and the rest of the Board agreed that they should wait and discuss it with Joe Zerbe.

Mike Kreiser (SES) said he got confirmation on the repairs that were done on the Ranger. The transmission went and the rear bumper needed to be replaced. Corby Lewis said okay but it seemed extensive for that vehicle.

Jack Brennan said he read the document, Act 537 draft revision plan, the $50.00 is there and it can be changed by resolution of the Board. Jack said both townships and the board of directors of Lake Wynonah have been consistently meeting over this last six to eight months and we also had special meetings where we called in Jim Ridderhoff to explain further in detail of where we were in the process since Plum Creek did not have public meetings.

Jack Brennan asked if Plum Creek Municipal Authority (PCMA) has an agreement with Lake Wynonah for hydrant snow removal or does PCMA clean them out, or is it up to the residents of Lake Wynonah to clean them out? Is there a policy in place for that? Jack said almost all boroughs and townships have some kind of policy in place of who is responsible for that mission. Nancy said PCMA does not do the snow removal from the hydrants and there is no policy. Jack said he was at a borough meeting and they charged the boroughs to clean them.

David Mengel said when the Act 537 plan is finalized, and it gets posted for the public review – could a copy be posted in the Lake Wynonah office – Jamie Lorah (SSM) said yes.

David Mengel asked for the PCMA who is the treasurer? Nancy (PCMA) said Jim Ridderhoff is the treasurer.

Ryan Achenbach said there was a chat question submitted by Tom. It says I am concerned about the main breaks and the leaks. Do we know how much we are losing daily? Mike Kreiser (SES) said he did not have the information on hand but speaking with Joe (PCMA) it is an extravagant amount of water with leaks until we get them fixed sometimes. Mike said the water system highest usage in November was 310,400 gallons, our lowest was 106,400 gallons, our average was 221,000 gallons. Jack Brennan said PCMA services 1239 homes in Lake Wynonah. Jamie Lorah (SSM) said she is not sure what their current resolution says but she thinks 200,000 gallons is fair – maybe a little bit higher than that. Mike said we would be at 240,000 gallons (roughly) at 1200 connections, 200,000 gallons per day, so our average was 221,000 gallons. Mike said we had some peaks and some other highs times before we had some repairs, but he knows there is a lot of leaks and it is ongoing issue with repairing leaks.

Jamie Lorah (SSM) said she wanted to clarify that the annual fee is $50.00 per year. Jamie said she does not think they would assess a revised fee until the following year so they would know how much to increase it by – if they had to.

Ryan Achenbach said on behalf of the Board he wanted to thank the public for their patience in both working through this meeting and being patient over the last few months. Ryan said we are going to make a commitment to at least having these Zoom meetings every month.

There being no further business, Corby Lewis motioned for adjournment, Matt Gruber seconded the motion, carried by all. Ryan Achenbach adjourned the meeting at 6:51 p.m.

Meeting minutes were taken, prepared, and submitted by Nancy Wesner.

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