November 2004

A regular meeting of the Board of The Lake Wynonah Municipal Authority was held on November 16, 2004 at the Lake Wynonah Municipal Authority Business Office Building, South Manheim Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

Board members present at the meeting were Jim Ridderhoff, Walter Jaros, Tom Nagle, and Joe Chicora. Also in attendance were Dave Bright (LWMA Engineer), Mike Stewart (Applied Water Management), Joe Zerbe (LWMA solicitor), and Tom Zenker (South Manheim Township Supervisor).

The meeting was called to order by Jim Ridderhoff at 6:00 p.m.

The minutes of the prior meeting were reviewed and accepted by motion of Walter Jaros, seconded by Joe Chicora, carried by all.

The Treasurer's reports for September and October 2004 were reviewed and accepted by motion of Joe Chicora, seconded by Tom Nagle, carried by all.

In legal matters, Joe Zerbe said he filed some liens on delinquent properties and satisfied others that had been paid. In another situation, a property scheduled for shut-off due to non-payment was delayed because it was discovered that a tenant was living in the premises. Joe Zerbe knew the owners and contacted them to apprise them of the situation. The owners and they said they would pay the bill immediately. Jen told the Board that the owners had experienced the same problem in the past and had always paid the past-due amounts not paid by their tenants.

Joe Zerbe also told the Board that the LWMA was subpoenaed to produce documents in a lawsuit the LWMA is not involved in. Joe said Jen produced the documents and sent them to him. Joe, in turn, sent them to the appropriate party to comply with the subpoena. In another matter, Joe asked if the deposit the LWMA received for a property it was selling was returned to the potential buyer. Jen said it was. Joe said he would prepare a release of the agreement for the buyer to sign to have the agreement officially terminated.

The Board reviewed the changes to the Delinquent Accounts procedure submitted prior to the meeting. Upon motion by Tom Nagle, seconded by Walter Jaros, carried by all, the new version of the Delinquent Accounts procedure was approved and accepted for use. The new document replaces the former one in its entirety.

In engineering concerns, Dave Bright reported that he was concerned with the water production totals. He said that even though the totals came down after the most recent system repairs and improvements, but he still thinks they're too high. He asked about the service line replacement program that had been talked about at a previous meeting. Walter said that he and Tom Nagle had spoken about it and he said Tom had been working on it. Tom said the program had been started with the first replacements being done at the same time the recent leak repairs were performed. Mike said the program had been started in the area of Montana Drive and Quarterhorse Cove and all those lines had been replaced. Mike said new replacements will be made each time leak repairs are done according to the amount of funds available.

Joe Chicora said that another thing that should be addressed is reducing the pressure in the water lines because high pressure produces leaks at a faster rate in weak spots on the lines. People at the lower elevations have the most pressure and right now the flow is gravity driven. He said there is too much pressure on the lines.

Dave said that, ideally, reducing pressure would be the solution but there is no easy way to accomplish that in Lake Wynonah. Joe said the first thing that would have to be done is to get the wells off the mains. The well water has to be routed to the storage tank in a separate line. Then, pressure reducing stations have to be constructed at various places to reduce the pressure, especially for homes closer to the lake because the pressure is highest there. Jim asked if pressure reducers have to be put on all lines that run downhill. Dave said not necessarily; some lines could be shut down. Walter asked how this kind of project would be started. Joe said it would first have to be laid out on paper. Dave said he has a preliminary plan on paper that had been prepared some time before. Jim asked him to review it and bring it to the next meeting with recommendations.

Tom Zenker asked to be heard by the Board. He said that DEP had not answered favorably to a request made for installation of a holding tank at 953 LoneStar Drive. Tom said that South Manheim Township then turned down the property owner's request based on the reply from DEP. He said the property owners will now bury the soil, wait five years, and have it tested again for a septic system.

Mike Stewart reviewed his written report relating to managerial matters (submitted to the Board prior to the meeting) which addressed water and sewage operations. The written report is attached to the office copy of these minutes. In water matters he reported that:

In sewage matters: Walter asked what happened with the driveway at lot 2081 when a pump was performed. Mike said the homeowner was present when the pump truck arrived to pump the septic tank. Mike said the truck was being backed up along the house and that the homeowner was guiding Bruce (the pump truck driver) on the side of the driveway that had a retaining wall. Mike was on the other side of the truck watching to make sure the truck didn't hit the homeowner's deck. As Bruce was inching the truck backward, the homeowner said his wall shook. Mike told Bruce to stop and Mike went over to look at the wall. Mike said he then had Bruce pull forward a bit and told him not to go back any farther. Mike said he watched the wall as Bruce pulled forward and the top portion of the retaining wall bulged out a little. Mike explained to the homeowner that a letter had been sent earlier in the year concerning the dimensions and weight of the pump truck and the homeowner acknowledged having read it by quoting parts of the letter. Mike said the homeowner wants the LWMA to repair his retaining wall.

Tom, at Mike's request, went out and looked at it. Tom explained the layout of the driveway to the rest of the Board and said it bulged out less than a foot. Jim asked if this is the first time the truck was taken on that driveway. Mike said it was and the property owner said he didn't know the driveway wouldn't hold the weight of the truck as the only thing that had been driven on it was a 4-wheel drive truck. Mike said there was no way the LWMA could have know the driveway wouldn't support the truck either. The homeowner called the LWMA business office and Jen asked him to submit the details of the incident in writing to be reviewed by the Board. She said she had not yet received anything. Mike said if he'd known there would be a problem, the pump truck could have been positioned at a different place for the pump to be performed. Joe Zerbe said there is a governmental immunity provision which, regardless of any LWMA policy, would likely apply and the LWMA wouldn't be held responsible.

A property owner whose water had been shut off that day asked to be addressed by the Board. She said it was her fault that it was shut off and that she was negligent in overlooking the provision offered to avoid termination. She explained the financial difficulties the family had been having and asked the Board to have her water restored. Jim reviewed the amounts owed to the Authority. He explained to her that procedures were in place to allow for special cases but it required her to be responsible and present her case in writing within the proper timeframe, which didn't happen in this case. Because she did not comply, Jim said that the next step in the chain was water termination. He told her that the LWMA does not like to terminate water, but it has to take action when notices are ignored. She made a proposition to the Board. The Board accepted her proposition with the understanding that she had to first follow procedure by submitting a notarized request. She said she would do that. Jen was told to contact the Board when she received the notarized letter so they could review it. If accepted, a payment agreement would have to be signed before the water service is restored, and if she defaults on the agreement the LWMA would have no alternative to immediately terminate water service again with no further consideration except full payment. Joe Zerbe suggested that she submit her first payment with the notarized letter and the Board agreed.

The Board discussed high water usage between holding tank pumps for properties in Wayne Township and asked if these properties were monitored. The question was prompted by the discovery of a holding tank property that had continual high usage between pumps that was then brought to the Board's attention. Jen explained that South Manheim Township has a person who reads holding tank properties each month to monitor water usage, but Wayne Township has not been taking readings for some time. Jim asked Mike to monitor Wayne Township holding tanks more closely to watch for properties that continually have high usage between pumps with no explanation for the usage.

The Board reviewed correspondence from three homeowners who submitted notarized letters for consideration for a payment plan in lieu of water service termination. The Board told Jen and Joe Zerbe to work out a written agreement for each property owner to sign that is somewhat standard but still tailored to each individual situation.

The Board discussed replacing the furnace at the plant. Mike said that, during the yearly maintenance, the maintenance personnel person from Hlavaty Plumbing & Heating said the furnace doesn't look like it would last much longer. The top of the line model would save the LWMA approximately 40% on its fuel bills. Mike said he hadn't thought a top of the line model or even a replacement itself would be necessary until Jen told him how much money was spent on heating oil each year (over $3,000 a year). The model suggested by Hlavaty was in the area of $6,500 which includes installation and removal of the old unit. With the current maintenance, the transformer had to be replaced and Mike said the jets go bad pretty often. Jen told the Board that Dennis Scharadin had called with feedback on the purchase of a new furnace and he suggested going with the cheapest model. Mike said he thought that would be the best route to take also until he found out that the better model was more energy and fuel efficient. Jen said that Dennis may not have realized that because she hadn't realized the copies of the information she sent each Board member didn't pick up some of the handwritten notes for each model. The Board decided that if a new furnace is purchased it should be energy and fuel efficient even if it had a higher price tag because it will pay off in the long run. Upon motion by Walter Jaros, seconded by Joe Chicora, and carried by all, it was decided that a new furnace will be purchased at the lowest bid for the exact make and model the LWMA wants, including installation and removal of the old unit, and that Mike will obtain three phone bids from three different vendors. Joe Chicora suggested three vendors he could think of but told Mike to make sure the bids are for the unit the LWMA wants to purchase.

The preliminary budget was reviewed. Jim reminded the Board that actual figures for the year 2004 were for the time period ending October 31st. The pump truck expense was discussed again and Joe Chicora told Mike to contact Seiler Welding in the future if frame repairs were needed. Jim also pointed out that sooner or later the tanks at the plant would need to be replaced so be budgeted for it. Mike agreed that the tanks would have to be replaced because he didn't know how much longer they could be patched.

The Board acknowledged a letter received from a property owner commending the Authority, specifically Mike and Kelly, for helping to solve an ongoing problem with sewage discharge from a neighboring property. Mike gave a little background on the situation and said that Wayne Bowen then stepped in and required the homeowner's septic tank to be pumped as a holding tank each week until replacement of the tank is made. Since then, the water was terminated to the property for nonpayment of water and sewage charges.

Jim asked when the problem was first identified and when it was first reported to the SEO. Mike said the problem first started as a sewage odor earlier in the year. Later, discharge was identified and Mike called the SEO directly to report it. Wayne Bowen, the SEO for the township, went to the property to investigate very shortly after that. Jen pulled the records for the property and told Jim that it had been reported in writing to the SEO on July 8, 2004. On August 24, 2004, Wayne Bowen contacted the property owner by letter to tell him that the soils tested for an on-lot septic system and the system had to be replaced. On September 8, 2004, Wayne Bowen again contacted the property owner because he had not received any correspondence regarding the replacement of the system. He also told the property owner that the LWMA would be pumping the tank weekly until the system was replaced. As of September 8, 2004 the LWMA started pumping the tank on a weekly basis as per SEO instructions. Jim asked if the LWMA should be contacting the DEP about the situation. Mike said the situation is under control. Dave Bright suggested going to the townships if there was an unresolved problem and Joe Zerbe agreed that contact with the township supervisors should be the first step.

Joe Chicora said that the LWMA should start thinking about random drug testing for employees. He said it's really important for liability reasons and insurance companies are starting to give premium breaks to employers who implement random drug testing. Joe Zerbe and Joe Chicora said the LWMA would have to put a policy in place before it could be implemented.

There being no further business, Joe Chicora motioned for adjournment, Walter Jaros seconded the motion, carried by all. The meeting was adjourned by Jim Ridderhoff at 7:36 p.m.

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

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