18 Feb Special Meeting February 18th, 2013
THE FOUR HUNDRED AND SIXTEENTH SESSION OF THE BOARD OF ALDERMAN Special Working Meeting
VILLAGE OF ALAMANCE
February 18, 2013 – 7:00 PM
Present: Mayor Bundren, Mayor Pro-Tem Sharpe, Alderman Clemmons, Alderman Tichy, Alderman Slaughter, Alderman Gregory, and Clerk York.
Absent: Alderman Crouse
Alderman Clemmons gave the invocation.
Mayor Bundren asked if the Board members had read the List of Pros and Cons provided by Clerk York. The Mayor then asked Clerk York to go over the list. Clerk York provided an overview, noting that he had been asked to provide a list of the pros and cons for doing the project. The Board is looking at Option #3, the $453,000 project. The questions are if the Board plans to do the project and how it will be financed. The positives and negatives alone may not be enough to help the Board arrive at a decision. The larger question is why the project is being done and what is to be achieved. That question helps with the decision, as the pros and cons of the project are reviewed.
Generally, the issues with Cabin Road involve limited access. In the event of a one hundred year flood, the pump station would be impossible to access. Currently, the owner has given verbal permission for access if needed. This could change at any point in time, creating further access problems relating to repairs. Pump repairs can cost anywhere from $3000-$4000. This includes the repair and the labor cost for pulling the pump, and replacing the pump into the wet well. Other costs can include rewinding the motor, so the total cost can vary in the range. It has been two years since the pump repair was completed at Cabin. It’s possible that pump repair could be needed soon. Currently, there is no standby power, creating another issue. In the event standby power is added, a flood could wipe out the generator and the Village would be right back where it started.
The problem of difficult access at Cabin would be eliminated with this project. An access point would be created off of Pond Road, providing easy and safe access for vehicles. The second pro is that there is no concern about a flood destroying the control panel. The new station with the dosing tank will have a telemetry system, and will be sufficiently above ground to avoid being damaged in a 100 year flood. The size and depth of the wet well will make overflows much less likely. There will be a wet well with the new system. Clerk York and Mark Reich looked at wet wells in Haw River and Graham. These are large; the Village would have to have a lot of sewer in order to fill up the wet well. Finally, there would be no need for standby power, no concern about costs associated with the pumps failing or bypass pumping. Electrical costs associated with the pump station operation will be eliminated. There will still be an auto-dialer; there will still be a telephone bill. The telephone bill currently is $71.00 per month.
Alderman Tichy asked if there would be an actual auto-dialer or a cell-link. Mr. Reich answered that this would depend on the telephone service. Alderman Tichy noted that the cell line is less expensive these days versus the $70.00 cost per month. Mr. Reich observed that if the cell would be less expensive than a regular telephone line, this is the route to take. It can be set up either way. Alderman Tichy noted it was also less of a maintenance issue in the event of a flood. Mr. Reich said that solar power is another option. The one at Haw River is solar powered. It is in a remote location and they do have a cell phone. Alderman Tichy commented that there is less chance of losing a cell link than a land link these days. Mayor Bundren stated that another pro is that they would not have to build a permanent access to the pump station. This would eliminate condemnation costs that might arise from that project. This is another reduction in cost. This also eliminates potential litigation for obtaining the above ground access. Attorney Bateman added that you could not really put a price tag on the cost of litigation. It could end up being very high.
Clerk York then presented the points related to the cons. Access in a 100 year flood event could still be an issue if Pond Road was closed due to flooding. One of the main reasons for undertaking this project is to eliminate the problems associated with a 100 year flood event. If Pond Road was closed during a flood event, there still would not be access to the pump station. Doing the project would not eliminate the access problems during a flood. Mr. Reich commented that this reason is not dependent on a flood. The dosing tank and the location will be above the 100 year flood line. The dosing tank and telementry should not be impacted by the flood itself; it is just the access. Alderman Tichy stated that he assumes there would be emergency access through the outfall line that feeds the pump station. Mr. Reich said this would require a 4-wheel drive vehicle. When the second connection was put in, they came off of Liberty Drive, went around one of the houses there, and crossed a very small 15-18 inch pipe ditch. This goes back up to Caprice Lane. You could go back up Caprice Lane, come back in that direction, and you wouldn’t have any additional problems. It’s about 400 feet; this would be across the water line easement. The other long-term consideration is Heritage Glen. There is only one way in and one way out of that subdivision. It would be great if there was a second means of ingress and egress at some point in time. Whether or not this could ever be connected with some type of emergency connection, not necessarily a road, is a consideration.
At the new Highland Elementary School, you only see one driveway. However, there is a second emergency driveway. The Fire Department knows this emergency drive exactly and has used it on one occasion when there was a wreck blocking the entrance. It is a grassed entrance, using the impervious blocks underneath. It has a roadway base underneath and a fire truck can actually drive down it. This could be a possible connection. Mayor Bundren noted that the original Heritage Glen plans included an entrance off of Alamance Baptist Loop. The Town’s lawyer, who did not represent the Village at that time, had this closed up. Attorney Bateman commented he didn’t think this was part of the lawsuit. Mayor Bundren said this access was still available, if there was a need. Mr. Reich said this would not address the particular issue of trying to get over to Caprice Lane, but it is always good to have two means of ingress and egress in any subdivision. Typically now, fire regulations for subdivisions with over 50 lots require a second entrance. Mayor Bundren stated that one of the concerns, at the time, was that the road was not wide enough for two cars to pass. A workable solution would be to make it a one-way street. This way, vehicles would come out at an intersection. Mr. Reich said that, in emergencies, vehicles can go one-way, either way they need to go. Clerk York concluded the discussion relating to the Cabin Pump station.
Clerk York then went over the pros and cons of the NC 62 pump station. Regarding the NC 62 Pump Station, currently there is no standby power. The control panels are 22 years old; there have been electrical problems with them in the past. There have been 4 pump failures in the last two years. These pumps are used. Total cost of all maintenance and expenses for the pump station, including the control panels and the pumps, over the last couple of years has been over $28,000. Most of the cost is due to the pump failures at the NC 62 station in May and September of 2011. It’s been 1 1⁄2 years since a pump failure there. Something could always happen tomorrow.
In the PER, they use the standard that the State uses to determine Gallons pumped per minute. Assuming people use 60 gallons of water per day per person and that 769 households would be the total amount of households in the future, the flow determined would greatly exceed the capacity of the pump stations, in a peak flow event. Even if this was done on a linear model, the increased flow would be approaching the maximum capacity. This issue would still need to be addressed. The pros, relating to the NC 62 Pump station, are the new generator; the pump station flow would be reduced, eliminating future flow and capacity issues; electrical costs will be reduced because the pumps won’t be working as often with reduced flow. The con is that nothing will be done with the pumps or with the control panels; it will simply lessen the flow which will lessen the amount of work the pumps will have to do. Putting in standby power will make the State happy.
Clerk York then addressed the financing of the project. The current unrestricted General Fund balance is approximately $1.4 million. The cost of this project is estimated to be $453,000.00. This represents 30% of the General Fund balance. The balance of the Water and Sewer Fund is approximately $250,000.00. This comes from last year’s audit. The Water and Sewer Fund had a $40,000.00 surplus last year and will likely have a $40,000-$45,000 surplus again this year. This would make it possible for the Water and Sewer Fund, over a period of time, to reimburse the General Fund. Assuming 0% interest for a 20 year period, the annual payment would be $22,650.00. Summarizing, the questions are: 1) Why is the Village undertaking the project? 2) What benefit does the Village hope to achieve? 3) Does the Board of Aldermen feel comfortable spending the amount of funds listed, as 30% of the General Fund? and 4) If the Board decides to go forward with the project, will there be a payment schedule from the Water and Sewer Fund?
Mayor Bundren has spoken with Becky Loy and reviewed some of the audit notes. The Village has, on hand, over expenditures, $238,123.00. With the Local Options Sales Tax increase of $53,904.00 per year, the Village is generating enough income that there is no need to pay any of the cost back. The LGC does not want the Village to use the funds for operating costs, but it can be used for a funded project for the betterment of the municipality. If nothing changes, the Village will continue to maintain a strong fund balance as it is. Ms. Loy’s suggestion is not to change anything. Mayor Bundren stated that the Board doesn’t need to think in terms of paying back the cost of the project. If you add the $238,123.00, and the $28,000.00 in repair costs, plus the $53,904.00 from the Local Options Sales Tax, and the $15,496.00 from the Local Government Commission, there is enough on hand now to pay for the project.
Alderman Tichy said that he agreed with Mayor Bundren. Alderman Tichy said he is looking at this from an operational possibility standpoint. He doesn’t want to pay back the General Fund because these funds are now being generated at a substantial rate. The potential for large capital improvement projects will always be on the Water and Sewer side. The Village needs the capital reserves there. If the project is funded from the General Fund and it has to be paid back, that will keep the Water and Sewer fund on the edge again. There is a $40,000 surplus but it was minus $17,000 after depreciation. This would add another $6700 per year toward depreciation. Over 67 years, it would depreciate to over $400,000. He sees no reason to give the Village potential problems by saying it has to be paid back. If there is a water increase from Burlington, we would have to pass it through to the customer. He dislikes this, because it is regressive. He would rather not be put in a position where they have to do something with the water and sewer rate. If the Village obligates itself to paying the cost back, it could find itself in this position.
Mayor Bundren added that if the Village paid for the engineering now, out of this fiscal year’s budget, then paid for the rest of this piece of the project in the next fiscal year, the Village should be free and clear. Then, anything generated from this could be used to do the second piece of the phase and make it all a gravity-feed within the next 3-5 years. She sees this as a win-win all the way around. Alderman Tichy stated that if the Village had to pay itself back, it’s on the books. Even if the Village doesn’t pay itself back, the State is going to recognize it in the audit as an obligation. It would impact the cash flow. For years, the Village has been on the edge. The unknowns are all on the water and sewer side. The Village is extremely strong on the General Fund side, and is not looking at any major expenditures on the General Fund side. Alderman Tichy said this is doing what is best for the community. It should be funded from the General Fund; obtain the State permission to fund it and then fund it. His opinion is to go ahead with the whole project.
Alderman Clemmons said that these are all good points. It’s hard to put a dollar amount on this, but it is never good to have to go across somebody else’s land. Someone else who doesn’t want the Village to do this, has expressed this many times. There will likely be someone else after him. It would be an issue 20 years down the road, and 50 years down the road. It will never be less expensive to do the project, than now. It really needs to be considered.
Alderman Clemmons asked Mr. Reich about the rock. Could the project become more expensive, $600,000-$650,000, because of rock? Mr. Reich responded that there is definitely rock, once you cross the creek, on the pump station side. Once you cross the creek, the terrain is a lot flatter, which usually lends itself to not having as much rock. This doesn’t mean there is not rock there. One of the things they can do is get a soil boring firm to come out. Once they talk to the property owners, and get them on board with it, they can send a drill rig out there and let them pop two or three spots between Pond Road and the existing pump station. The other side will not be quite as critical. They know there will be rock going underneath the creek. Once they get to that side of Pond Road (north side) they’ll be at a depth where they’ll be boring from Pond Road to the other side of the creek.
Mayor Bundren asked if the rock under the creek had been factored in. Mr. Reich replied that this had been factored in before. They won’t know until they get the bids. They’ll have a much better idea about the rock once the soil borings are done. This can be done early on in the design of the process, once alignment is established and property owners have been contacted. If they drill down 10 or 15 feet, and they don’t hit rock; then they come over another 200 feet and drill down 10 or 15 feet, and still don’t hit rock, then there’s a pretty good assumption you won’t hit rock in-between. It doesn’t mean there might not be a pocket of rock, but if the terrain is similar, it is a pretty good assumption. Alderman Clemmons stated that he hoped the cost of this would be reasonable. Mr. Reich said he bored about 4000 feet on another recent project, and it cost $5000.00.
Alderman Clemmons asked about safety issues related to the wet well. Mr. Reich replied there would be confined space requirements, just as with any other pump station. The one in Haw River was fenced in; the one in Graham was not. He recommends that a fence be considered, to keep people out; this is not required. Alderman Clemmons asked if it would be locked. Mr. Reich observed that a 6 ft-8ft. fence is put around the wet well. Alderman Clemmons noted he was referring to the well being locked. Mr. Reich said it is a concrete structure, 8 x 10, about 15 feet deep. Alderman Tichy noted this is about the same as the existing pump station. Mr. Reich agreed that it was similar to that. The dosing tank is inside. There are two aluminum hatches, 2 x 3, or along that line. There are typical manhole steps down inside it. To access it, you must comply with all the confined space safety laws. He is 90% sure that Haw River had locks on that one. Mayor Bundren asked if the fencing would be needed, if it was locked. Alderman Tichy responded the fencing would still be needed. Mr. Reich observed that the fencing would offer another degree of safety for the telemetry, which would be inside the fence.
Alderman Clemmons stated they are confident the next phase will be completed in Heritage Glen. Alderman Clemmons pointed out that the Mayor had observed, years ago, that this would open up Pond Road for possible development. Mr. Reich said that between the existing pump station and Heritage Glen, is an 8-inch line. That is the limiting factor between what can be tied on to that line. The pump station will be able to carry at least as much, if not more, than that 8-inch line. If there would be a limiting factor, it would be in the existing line between the current pump station and Heritage Glen.
Mr. Bateman asked about the dosing tank. Mr. Reich explained that it works very similar to a big toilet. It’s the same principle, with water coming in, then it “flushes” and generates enough velocity, for about 1,000 gallons to go out. Alderman Clemmons asked if there were any issues with smell. Mr. Reich responded there were no more smell issues than with a typical pump station. The City of Graham says they have occasionally had issues with grease. They do some preventative maintenance weekly. They use their jet truck to spray the inside, so that no grease ever forms. At Haw River, they had put degreaser in, one time only. Alderman Gregory asked if this would be affected by grease, more than a pump. Mr. Reich replied negatively, saying it was about the same. Mayor Bundren observed the only grease is residential, in the Village. Clerk York commented there have been some grease issues at the Cabin pump station. The wet well would be a lot bigger and would easily just flush it out. Alderman Tichy stated it is no more or less susceptible than what they are doing now.
Mayor Bundren asked if any Board members were opposed to the project. They have been discussing all of the pros for the project. Alderman Gregory asked if this was the best option. Mr. Reich responded that this would be safer than the pump station. It will eliminate some cost. Siphons have been around for one hundred years. Alderman Tichy reminded that they have looked at two, locally, that are operating fine. Mr. Reich commented that they had talked about looking at the one at Mebane, but after they looked at the one at Haw River, they were fairly well satisfied. The one at Mebane has a couple of siphons; the one at the Art Center comes into a dosing tank. There is a little creek; the ballfields come to the dosing tank. It goes underneath the creek and back over to the wastewater treatment plant on the other side of the creek. That one has been in use about 15 years. They’ve never had any trouble with it in 15 years, not even grease. Clerk York commented that it looked, to him, like a wet well without pumps. Basically, you are getting rid of the pumps. The worry that you have with pumps would go away. Alderman Tichy added that they know that the pumps are the problem.
Alderman Clemmons observed that it would be a long time before they would get the cost back, compared to what is being paid, even with the pumps, but it is a long time of dealing with an issue that will keep rearing its head. Mayor Bundren commented it was a resolution to an ongoing problem. It can be resolved now, so it doesn’t continue. Alderman Tichy observed they would be avoiding the cost of putting in standby power at Cabin; avoiding the cost of putting in a right-of-way; avoiding any citation from the State regarding an access road. If they don’t get started on this, the Village could get hit with $100,000 of cost to put in an access road, to settle litigation on access and right-of-way, put in a standby generator, and do everything else. Mayor Bundren added that none of this would be any quicker than just going ahead with the project. Alderman Tichy summarized that if they go ahead with the project, it will eliminate the other potential expenditures. Mayor Pro Tem Sharpe made the motion to move forward with the project. Alderman Tichy seconded. Alderman Clemmons commented that he did want the Village to do the soil bore. Alderman Gregory asked what would happen if they do find rock. Alderman Tichy suggested they could look at a cost estimate and do a review. Alderman Clemmons said it just depends on what the cost would be. Alderman Tichy observed if they were told it would cost $30,000 for the rock, fine. If they were told it would cost $300,000 for the rock, the Board would need to sit down and review. Mayor Pro Tem Sharpe rephrased the motion to include, “predicated on the cost of the bore and if there is rock found.” Alderman Tichy seconded the rephrased motion. Alderman Tichy recommended a project review, after the test bores. The motion passed unanimously.
Alderman Clemmons made the motion to adjourn the special meeting. Mayor Pro Tem Sharpe seconded. The motion passed unanimously and the meeting was adjourned.