MEETING MINUTES OF THE
LAKE WYNONAH MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY
A regular meeting of the Board of The Lake Wynonah Municipal Authority was held on March 18, 2008 at the Lake Wynonah Municipal Authority Business Office Building, South Manheim Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.
Board members present at the meeting were Jim Ridderhoff, Tom Nagle, Dennis Scharadin, Walter Jaros, and Gerald Weiss. Also in attendance were Dave Bright (LWMA Engineer); Mike Stewart (American Water Service); LWMA attorney Joe Zerbe; LWPOA Board members Paul Lund, Tom Stone, and John Paul Marceau; and property owners Amy Beres (The Lake News) and Lucinda Nagle.
Jim Ridderhoff called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.
The minutes of the prior meeting were reviewed and accepted by motion of Tom Nagle, seconded by Gerald Weiss, carried by all.
The Treasurer's reports for January and February 2008 were reviewed and approved as corrected by motion of Tom Nagle, seconded by Gerald Weiss, carried by all.
In legal matters, Joe Zerbe said routine legal matters had been taken care of. He said an issue came up with the Well 8 contractor (DESCCO) regarding tax exemption. DESCCO wanted to make purchases using the LWMA’s tax exempt status, and Joe spoke with the Chief Council’s Office of the Department of Revenue to resolve the issue. He was told that this is something the Authority shouldn’t get involved in, and the contractor needed to handle sales tax matters within the business itself. Mike asked if the Board could make accommodations to authorize payments for work completed for Well 8 when it occurs rather than wait for a routine Board meeting to approve the request for payments due to meetings being held every other month. Joe Zerbe said someone needed to be authorized to inspect the invoices and someone from the Board needed to be appointed to then authorize payment. Upon motion by Dennis Scharadin, seconded by Walter Jaros, carried by all, Tom Nagle and Jerry Weiss were appointed to authorize the payment of bills submitted by DESCCO, subject to approval by Mike Stewart’s and Dave Bright’s examination of the payment requests to assure that the work was completed.
Joe addressed how the LWPOA’s proposed changed to the by-laws and deed restrictions might affect the LWMA. He said the important thing to remember about by-laws is that they can always be amended. He said the POA has to follow the procedures in the existing by-laws as to how to make the amendments, and he said he had no reason to believe they’re not. A written notice of intent to change the by-laws must be given to the members at least 10 days before the meeting. At the meeting, a quorum of the members has to be present (at least one-fifth of the qualifying members in good standing), and, out of that quorum, a majority vote of those present decides the outcome of the vote. Joe said if the LWPOA follows those procedures they can amend the bylaws. He highlighted the differences between the existing bylaws and proposed bylaws:
Joe said there were some other minor changes in the bylaws, but he addressed those that were most prevalent. He said there were no changes in the proposed bylaws that affected the LWMA except that LWMA Board members were also property owners.
- The LWPOA wants to change a little bit of the procedure in the proposed bylaws as to how they would amend bylaws in the future, providing the current changes passed. It would still requires a quorum of 20% of the members, with a majority vote of that quorum, but it doesn’t seem to say that at least a 10-day notice period has to be given. Joe said usually there should be some type of notice to the membership.
- There is second section that requires a super majority of 75% of all voters to vote whether they voted or not. Joe interpreted that to mean that it’s not 75% of the quorum that attends the meeting, but 75% of all members if the amendments to the bylaws are going to reduce or eliminate any powers or duties of the Board. Tom Nagle said that it basically makes it impossible to do that because there would never be a total of 75% of the people voting. Joe agreed that it would be very difficult.
- The duties and powers of the directors are specified in the proposed bylaws, and there are 26 specific duties, but he didn’t detail all of them.
- The proposed new bylaws establishes a hearing board which Joe said is probably a good idea as a first level of appeal if there are any alleged violations of the deed restrictions, bylaws, or rules.
- There’s an indemnification provision in the proposed bylaws that is not in the old bylaws, meaning that the Property Owners’ Association will cover costs and expenses of the existing Board members if there are any threatened, pending, or existing civil, criminal, or administrative proceedings or lawsuits. Joe said this addition isn’t unusual and often occurs in bylaws.
- There is also a new provision regarding removal of the directors from the Property Owners’ Association Board in that they may be removed with 60% of members present and voting at a meeting with 20% when proper notice is given. In the existing bylaws it was a simple majority. He said the new provision would make it harder for the membership of the Property Owners’ Association to remove a Board member than it used to be. In addition, Board directors themselves, without membership approval, could also remove another director by two-thirds vote of the entire Board if cause exists, and “cause” is not really defined except for missing three consecutive meetings.
Joe then addressed the proposed deed restriction changes. He said the important thing about deed restrictions is that they are usually permanent restrictions that run with the land, meaning it carries over from one owner to the next. He looked at the original 1972 restrictions as well as the 1994 amendment, and compared them to the new proposed restrictions. The original restrictions contain language that certain restrictions could be changed or revoked after 1976. However, the original restrictions and the 1994 amendment indicate that items 1, 4, 5, 7, 9, and 10 shall remain in effect until January 1, 2020. Therefore, in his opinion, those restrictions cannot be changed or revoked before that time by the LWPOA Board except by 100% agreement of every property owner in Lake Wynonah. It’s important to the LWMA in that the one restriction that’s missing in the proposed deed restriction changes, one that cannot be changed until 2020, is the water availability charge which is charged to vacant, undeveloped lots on a yearly basis. The water availability fee represents a significant amount of money to the Authority and the loss of those funds would have to be made up by charging homeowners for the difference if the LWPOA changed the restriction. Joe suggested the LWMA Board discuss it with the LWPOA Board. As three members of the LWPOA Board were in attendance, the matter was addressed. Paul Lund, LWPOA President, said the omission was an oversight and he didn’t think there would be any issue with putting the restriction back in the proposed changes.
Joe said there is also a slight change in procedures for amendments to the deed restrictions that he also didn’t feel could be changed, by law, until the year 2020. He also said there are new restrictions that are not part of the original deed restrictions that didn’t cause an issue with the Authority, but one of the changes gives the LWPOA Board power to increase initiation fees and annual dues without a vote of the membership. It also specifies that lot owners will now have personal liability for fees, and fees are also a lien on the lot.
Joe told the LWMA Board that the one proposed change to the deed restrictions that may have a bit of impact on the Authority is paragraph 14 of the proposal that prohibits any other owner from recording a declaration of covenants, restrictions, and easements without the LWPOA Board’s consent, with the possible concern being easements. Joe said he wasn’t sure what the lawyer who drafted the proposed changes intended. He said he didn’t know if it meant there just can’t be another declaration of covenants, restrictions, and easements without the LWPOA Board’s consent, or whether it prohibits any property owner from granting easement to any other property owner for any purpose. He suggested the LWPOA Board members talk to their legal council about it. LWPOA Board member, John Paul Marceau, said that the intent is that the easement will exist as is except for roadway clarification, and to help people clarify setbacks. Joe said the thing he was concerned about is if the Authority needed easement across someone’s property for some purpose, would it require the LWMA to go to the LWPOA for approval. John Paul said there was no intent to make it harder for the LWMA to exercise the easements as was stated in earlier versions of the deed restrictions, and added that the change was more for property owners to know where the easements are so they’re not encroached upon.
Joe Zerbe asked if the Board had any other questions for him at the time, as he was going to have to leave the meeting early. Jerry Weiss said he was putting the finishing touches on the Authority’s handbook, and asked the Board if he could communicate some legal aspects of the document to Joe for review, and both the Board and Joe agreed.
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:
In sewage matters:
- Meter conversion requests have been extremely minimal since the special-pricing deadline ended.
- Storage tank levels were very low in January until leaks were found and repaired. Storage tank levels rose in February and are currently at full capacity.
- Meter reading started on March 17, 2008.
- Some spot flushing of the water system was performed in response to dirty water complaints in a couple of areas. All of the affected customers were very understanding when we told them that we were only spot flushing as needed until Well #8 is put into service. A full system flushing will be performed in late April or early May.
- Construction on Well #8 is progressing at a good rate. Quality of workmanship is very good. LWMA inspection of the work is being done on a daily basis, and photographs have been taken of the project from start to finish.
Jim read the quotes Mike received for the door replacements. Victor Muncy quoted $3,900 for the plant doors and $1,600 for the door at Well #6. DESCCO quoted $3,789 for the plant doors and $905 for Well #6. Upon motion by Walter Jaros, seconded by Jerry Weiss, and carried by all, the lesser of the two quotes was accepted and approved, with DESCCO having the lowest quote.
- Both pump trucks are operational.
- The old Mack pump truck was severely rusted at the back of the trays; new brackets were fabricated and welded into place by Seiler Welding. The brackets hold the rear light assemblies, the mud flaps, and the license plate for the truck as well as support the rear of the hose trays.
- The entire plant was pumped out and the sludge was stored in the holding tanks and digester in order to make some repairs to the treatment plant. One flapper valve was repaired and another replaced. Rags were removed from the bottom of the aeration tanks and from the diffusers. The digester was pumped out and its contents hauled to the Pine Grove plant to make room for the sludge from the aeration tanks.
- Two estimates have been secured for the replacement of the double doors at the sewage treatment plant and the door to the well house at Pump #6. Both doors are severely deteriorated and need to be replaced as soon as possible.
Joe Zerbe wanted to address an additional important point regarding the deed restrictions. He said the old deed restrictions state that certain restrictions, including the water availability charge, may not be terminated, changed, or revoked until the year 2020. The 2020 date is not stated in the proposed new deed restrictions. He asked the LWPOA Board members present if there was any reason the date had been omitted, as he felt the date had to be put back in. LWPOA Board member, Tom Stone, said the LWPOA’s council is reviewing the proposed changes right now, and didn’t feel the LWPOA members could comment on it until advised by their attorney. It was decided by both the LWMA Board and the LWPOA Board members that LWMA attorney, Joe Zerbe, would contact the LWPOA’s attorney to review the new, proposed the concern regarding the inclusion of the 2020 water availability date in the proposed deed restriction changes.
Jim Ridderhoff added that billing vacant lots for the yearly water availability fee was important to keep in effect at the present time. He said the intent of the Authority was to someday bill for water based entirely on usage, but there are some inherent problems that prevent the LWMA from doing an adequate job of switching over to a system of charging for water based just on metered usage.
In engineering matters, Dave Bright said, once the permitting problems were taken care of, the Well 8 Project was moving along well. He then asked Tom Nagle if he’d contacted someone about the source water protection technical assistance program, and Tom said he tried to make contact several times but someone had only gotten back to him a few weeks ago. Tom added that he spoke with DEP representative, Andrew Augustine, from the Northeast Region Office, and said the program consisted of identifying anything in the area that might affect the source water supply. He said that’s where Spotts, Stevens & McCoy comes in, as they are under contact with the state of Pennsylvania to do the study to identify those things, and SSM is then reimbursed by the state. Tom said the program is voluntary, and would require the LWMA to oversee, on an ongoing basis, a permanent committee in as big an area as possible, even extending far out of the development, to try to educate people as to what type of things could affect the ground water. The committee is expected to consist of several municipal authority members, several supervisors from each township, and people from all the surrounding areas. Constant meetings will be needed, and the LWMA will be required to pay for advertising for the county area surrounding all of its wells. Jim asked what kind of distance around the wells is affected. Dave said it depended upon the rock formation the water is drawn from, and there’s no fixed area around the well like the zoning around wells that varies from 100 to 400 feet. Tom said the area could be extensive.
Dave asked if Tom had a meeting with Mr. Augustine. Tom said he didn’t, as Mr. Augustine indicated he needed assurance that the LWMA would be committed to initiating the project, including getting all people involved, dedicating advertising funds, and spending any money needed, before a meeting would be arranged to authorize and pay SSM to do the study. Dave said the things he’d experienced in meetings with other authorities were generally the same as Tom had explained but the other regional representatives weren’t as adamant as to the commitment that Mr. Augustine stated. Jim Ridderhoff asked Tom if he thought the project would be a good use of time, and Tom said he can’t imagine who would have the time to commit to it and do all the things Mr. Augustine said would be required. Jerry asked if Tom thought the Schuylkill County Municipal Authority Manager, Patrick Caulfield, Region 2 Director, would have any ideas. Jerry said he saw his name in the current issue of time The Authority magazine, and said he wondered if someone from another authority was planning on pursuing it because of all the time involved. Tom said he hadn’t talked to any other authorities, so he didn’t know. Dennis said it almost sounded like a full-time job. The general consensus of the Board was that time and funds were not available to initiate the project, but if any Board member wanted to find out more information about it from another source, he was welcome to do so.
In addressing the yearly write-off of delinquent accounts, a write-off amount of $19,607.33 and a reversal write-off amount (due to the 2006 judicial sales) of $32,768.09 was approved by motion of Dennis Scharadin, seconded by Tom Nagle, and carried by all.
Jim thanked Tom Nagle and Mike Stewart for overseeing the well project and for keeping the rest of the Board abreast of the progress.
Paul Lund talked to the Board about the problems with the swimming pool at the Lodge. He said the pool was tested over the past winter, and it was found that the pool was leaking. He said they had an estimate from a contractor to repair it, but the cost would be over $100,000, and the LWPOA didn’t have the funds to take on a project of that size right now. He asked the LWMA Board if there was anything that could be worked out for the summer with the possibility of pushing the project off until the following year. He said that would give them time to set some money aside this year and next year in order to make the repairs. Paul added that an excessive amount of water was used last year to keep the pool filled and, in light of that, he was hoping something could be worked out with the Authority. Jim Ridderhoff said that the LWMA will be in a better position this year in regard to having water with the new well going on line, but that didn’t negate the problem of misusing water as it had been last summer.
Jim said he realizes the pool requires a lot of water to be filled, and the LWMA has always filled it free of charge. The problem is, he said, the people who maintained the pool misused their privileges and overused thousands of gallons of water. It became a real problem last year because the LWMA didn’t have the supply of water needed to absorb all that had been wasted at the pool. Jim said, as long as the maintenance issues can be resolved, he felt that both organizations could live with the pool leaks until they were repaired if the leaks were not extremely substantial. Tom Nagle said as long as there isn’t any abuse of the water use by the people who maintain the pool something could be worked out. Jim felt, in addition to poor supervision in the maintaining of the pool, the problem with the misuse of water stemmed from the fact that the LWMA is not charging for water, making it easier for someone to not care if it’s wasted. Paul Lund said that’s why he felt some guidelines should be determined.
Mike said that if Bill Tyler would be taking over the maintenance of the pool everybody concerned would probably be in good hands, as he felt that Bill keeps good track of everything concerning it. He said if Bill does take over, the LWMA shouldn’t have any problem keeping the amount of water used to a minimum, based on the size of the pool leaks. Tom Nagle was concerned that Bill may not oversee the pool issues as closely as he should because he hadn’t in the past, and hadn’t been all that frugal with water use. Tom Nagle said he had stopped by the pool back when he was on the LWPOA Board, and found Bill watching a full-open flow of water pouring into the pool, running over the north end, across the deck, over the side, and running down the hill just flooding away. He said that kind of waste just isn’t acceptable. Mike agreed that Bill hadn’t been that frugal in the past, but said he talked to Bill and he’s ready to supervise things as they should be.
Paul Lund said they wanted to be pro-active with the pool situation and wanted to guard against abusing the water use. He said a plan should be put together so the LWPOA could give the right guidelines to the people who will be managing the pool, regardless of who it might be, so that person is conscious of excessive use of water. Paul said the LWPOA Board also wants to keep on top of things regarding the leaks. Tom Nagle said he’d previously sent information to the Lake office with the name of a person he’d spoken to last year who takes care of pool issues for the state, and that person said he would give advice and any kind of help the LWPOA needed; all they had to do was contact him. Tom Nagle said the person did all the chemical use training for the state also, and felt he could be a big help to the LWPOA. Paul Lund said everybody would agree that they needed to do a better job managing the pool this year than they did last year. Jim said the LWMA shouldn’t be responsible for managing the pool, but he said the LWMA and the LWPOA had to come to an agreement as to the use of the water. Jim suggested 3,000 replenishment gallons of water a day for the pool with a “bumper” of 50%. If the usage goes over the 50%, then the LWPOA would be charged the same overage amount charged to all customers of Lake Wynonah, which is $4.25 per thousand gallons. He said that would instill incentive to keep tight control of the water use, and it would also be compensation to the LWMA for excessive use due to the leaks. John Paul Marceau reiterated that the LWPOA didn’t want to abuse the situation, and they wanted to look at different ways to control the water use and maintain the pool. He said the tests have already shown where some of the leaks are in the pool system, and they could do some things to avoid water being used unnecessarily. Jerry Weiss asked what type of testing was performed, and John Paul said pressure testing was done. Mike said he could look at the results of the testing, as there might be some things he could suggest to temporarily fix some of the leakage until a complete repair could be done, and the LWMA might even be able to help with the temporary repairs.
Tom Nagle strongly recommended that LWPOA Manager, Sue Ohlinger, contact the person who works for the state in regard to pool maintenance, and get his input. Tom Stone agreed, and said that’s who should be contacted in order for the LWPOA to train the pool maintenance people. He said if they’re trained correctly they’ll know what they’re supposed to be doing, and there should be no excuse for repeating the things that happened at the pool last year. Tom Stone said they’re looking for a plan to work with and would be willing to pay between “free” and $4.25 per thousand gallons for extra water if needed. Jim said the LWMA could give a water allowance for reasonable loss at no charge, and charge for anything in excess. Members from both Boards agreed to work toward a solution, but all also agreed that an exact amount could not be determined until the LWPOA obtains more information about how much water is being lost. Paul Lund said they could have more information for the next LWMA meeting in May, and they could talk further about the situation.
Jim told the rest of the Board that he would not be able to attend the May meeting.
There being no further business, Dennis Scharadin motioned for adjournment, Gerald Weiss seconded the motion, carried by all. The meeting was adjourned by Jim Ridderhoff at 7:31 p.m.
Meeting minutes were taken, prepared, and submitted by Jennifer Hoy.