04 Apr January 24, 2022 Minutes
THE FIVE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FORTH SESSION OF THE BOARD OF ALDERMAN
VILLAGE OF ALAMANCE
January 24, 2022 – 7:00 PM
Present: Mayor Tichy, Mayor Pro Isley, Alderman Tichy, Alderman Crouse, Alderman Andrews, Alderman Cheap, Alderman Hunt and Clerk York.
Invocation and Call to Order given by Mr. Reich
Two corrections were needed for the December 20, 2021 minutes. Philip Cheap is named as Philip Cheek and Rob Shepard Dr. should have been added as part of the streetlights that needed new bulbs.
A motion was made to approve the December 20, 2021 meeting minutes as corrected by Alderman Tichy, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Isley. Motion carries 6-0
- Brian Fahey Water Bill
Mr. Fahey stated he had a water leak on his side of the meter box December 13th that a passing neighbor noticed. Clerk York was informed of the leak and had the water shut off. Mr. Fahey had the leak fixed that evening. He stated that his December bill was for almost 43,000 gallons of water used, of which ninety percent was from the leak. He stated Clerk York informed him he could credit his bill for the sewer portion because that wasn’t used but not the water. Mr. Fahey is requesting to have the water usage adjusted down to 6,000 gallons which is closer to his normal usage.
Mr. Fahey stated there was a slight leak that started in October which was detected by the meter reading showing continuous water usage overnight. There was not enough water used to cause an alert at that time. The leak remained minimal until December 9th when the fitting on the meter broke.
Clerk York stated his policy has always been to adjust off the sewer portion if the leak did not involve sewer usage. The Village must pay Burlington for all water used whether from a leak or not. He did check with other towns to see what their policies are for these matters. Burlington will adjust up to half off the water bill and is the only municipality to do so. Other municapalities, Graham, Haw River and Gibsonville, only adjust the sewer portion of the water bill.
Clerk York stated that he had emailed Mr. Fahey December 17th to advise him that the repair in the pipe was the homeowner’s responsibility and that he would adjust off the excess sewer portion of the bill. He informed Mr. Fahey that he could come before with board with any issues regarding this matter. Mr. Fahey responded to the email stating he appreciated the adjustment on the bill. He took no issue in that email with only the sewer being adjusted. Clerk York stated he did adjust the sewer portion off the bill taking it from $587.49 to $314.00, a credit of $273.38.
Clerk York stated that in the meter reading software there is a section of reports available after each reading, one being a continuous leak report. He checks this report each month and tries to data log any new meters showing a continuous leak. He also checks the bills, for meters showing a leak longer than two weeks, to see if there is a significant jump in usage. If there is only a small increase, $10 to $15 dollars which Mr. Fahey had, he doesn’t notify. Clerk York explained that when he first starting using the automatic read meters, he would inform each homeowner of any continuous water usage. This resulted in some frustrated homeowners because they would pay a plumber to come out and they couldn’t find a leak, so it was an extra expense for nothing. Clerk York said he doesn’t usually notify homeowners now unless it’s a bigger leak of 5-6 gallons or more per hour. Mr. Fahey’s leak did not get that high until early December.
Mr. Fahey stated the software seemed useless if it doesn’t alert someone to constant running water. He feels it unfair to be penalized for the extra water usage when there was no visible changes or water pressure issues to alert them to a problem. Alderman Tichy asked what happened in these cases before the smart meters went in. Clerk York stated there would have been no difference for this type of issue. A break is not predictable. The bill would have been adjusted the same before the smart meter just as it is now. The system does not alert in real time, it only shows usage when its read. The only time Clerk York does a 90-day data log is when he sees a significant change in the amount of the bill.
Alderman Tichy asked how other municipalities with smart meters handle these types of issues. Mr. Allred stated the other towns he works for uses the same guide as Clerk York. They alert homeowners if the leak is at 5 or more gallons per hour. Alderman Tichy asked if there was a written policy on this issue. Clerk York stated there was not. Attorney Koonts stated the board could adopt one if they would like to. The way Clerk York handles it currently is consistent with other municipalities because of the out of pocket cost they have for buying water. There is typically not an adjustment on water consumption because it has been used regardless of how and must be paid for. Attorney Koonts said that Burlington’s cost for water is significantly lower because they have the water treatment plant.
Alderman Cheap stated he was uncomfortable with the fact that the smart meters can detect constant water flow, but the homeowner was not notified. Alderman Tichy reminded him that in the beginning of using the meters they did alert homeowners and it ended up causing more problems than help. Alderman Cheap stated that the Village could possibly have a letter drawn up to inform a homeowner of a leak, even if it is small, and absolve itself of any responsibility from the homeowner’s actions regarding the leak. Mr. Fahey agreed that some form of communication with a homeowner for a continuous leak would be good, even if it’s a small leak. The homeowner can then choose what course of action to take and understand it is fully their responsibility. Mayor Tichy stated these small increases often cause more aggravation and expense for a homeowner which is why the threshold for alerting someone is higher than 1 to 2 gallons an hour. He also said the Village is responsible for paying for all water used and typically runs at a loss for water and sewer. This is the reason adjustments are not made for water, only sewer.
Mr. Allred explained that an attachment to the meter was not installed properly by the plumber and eventually the pressure caused a minimal leak that started in October. When it broke December 9th the leak was not noticed for a couple of days because there was a hole in the ground absorbing the bulk of the water. Once the ground was saturated it became visible. Mr. Allred was called to turn the meter off on December 13th. Mr. Allred and Clerk York explained there was no fool proof way to prevent or detect when a break would happen. Mr. Fahey understood and said he would call Clerk York to do a meter read if he ever notices inconsistencies in his bill again.
Alderman Tichy asked Clerk York if he would write a policy regarding how to handle water leaks. Clerk York responded that he would have one written up for the next meeting for the board to vote on. There will be an announcement put in the newsletter after it is adopted and a statement letting residents know they can request a meter reading at any time. Clerk York stated he also needs current contact information for the Village residents and will request that in the next newsletter.
A motion was made by Alderman Tichy to follow the policy of sewer reimbursement only and formalize the policy in writing, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Isley. Motion carries 6-0
Jeremy Vestal asked where the on the meter is considered the town side and the residential side. Clerk York stated the towns responsibility is from the street to the front of the meter and the homeowner’s responsibility is from the back side of the meter to the house.
Mr. Vestal stated he was not happy with the plowing and salting of the roads. He said he cleaned the Baptist Loop Rd himself because the plows only focused on Heritage Glen. Alderman Tichy stated he drove around Monday and saw that very little had been scraped. Clerk York called Alderman Tichy to inform him the plows were about 15 minutes away. They scraped Heritage Glen first because it has the densest population, then they scraped through the village.
Clerk York spoke to Cody Horn, at Wildwood Landscapes, and asked if in the future they could devote one truck to the rest of the village while Heritage Glen is being scraped. He stated that could be done if they have more than one truck working the in village. Alderman Tichy and Mr. Vestal agreed that there were complaints about the time frame the roads were cleared and hoped that the trucks could be distributed more equally through the Village next time. Clerk York stated Cody had a miscommunication with his crew that day and immediately diverted them to the Village to work on the streets. Clerk York stated that Wildwood had pretreated the streets on Friday in anticipation of Sundays snow/ice event. They also came out and salted the roads after scraping that same evening. Clerk York will be talking with Mr. Horn later to see if a different plan is needed for the next snow/ice event.
Mr. Reich stated he had received the as built drawings for Heritage Glen phase 5C-1 and the water and sewer applications. They were able to find one of the two sewer cleanouts and will install the other one. The bond amount has been approved. Mr. Reich said he is still waiting on the video of the sewer lines to record on the plat.
The paving project is still on for March or April, warmer and dryer weather is needed for that work.
Mr. Allred stated the collection system was running well. The distribution system had some low numbers considering they have been replaced with new meters, but Mr. Allred will monitor them.
Planning Board Vacancy
Mayor Tichy stated they have received four letters of interest from the community about filling this vacancy. They hope to speak with the interested parties and be able to make a decision at the March meeting.
Zoning Ordinance Committee
Clerk York stated the next meeting is tomorrow evening and things are progressing well. He has spoken with Ginger Booker, and she will be able to attend the February 8th meeting.
Finance Report/Budget Amendment
Clerk York stated he had a budget amendment to make. He had not previously created a line item for Ms. Bookers service of rewriting the zoning ordinances, so he is adding $10,000 to the other professional services line item. He is moving the funds from capitol budgeting.
A motion was made by Alderman Crouse to approve the budget amendment as presented seconded by Alderman Hunt. Motion carries 6-0
Clerk York updated the council on the ARP money and the State budgeted money which comes to about $630,000. The funds must be obligated by December of 2024 and spent by December 2026.
There is a vacancy for the PT Cog meeting, a board member should be chosen as the representative. The meetings are every two months, the third Wednesday at 12.
Motion to adjourn by Alderman Crouse, seconded by Alderman Tichy. Motion carries 6-0
Don Tichy, Mayor
___________________________________Ben York, Village Clerk