The Board meets on the first and third Monday of each month. Meetings begin at 1:00 p.m. and are held in the department conference room at 65 Lafayette Ave, Littleton. Board meetings are open to the public and time is allotted for public comments at each meeting.
The regularly scheduled Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting began at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, August 20, 2018 in the Littleton Water and Light (LWL) conference room. Present were Commissioner Ralph Ross, Commissioner Schuyler Sweet, Financial Director Cheryl Wilkins, and Superintendent Thomas Considine.
The minutes of the August 6, 2018 regularly scheduled Commissioners meeting were reviewed. Commissioner Sweet made a motion to accept the minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Ross.
The vote was in favor of the motion 2-0-0.
CUSTOMER & PUBLIC CONCERNS:
Mr. Rudy Gelsi addressed the BOC about the $160,000 that is to be given to the Town of Littleton to support the river district project. Mr. Gelsi asked if the money was not given to the town would LWL take back the eleven (11) percent electric rate increase.
Commissioner Ross stated that these two situations are not related to one another and emphasized that the money slated to go towards the river district has no bearing on what happened to the electric rates. The electric rate increase is a direct result of increased operating costs associated with transmission and wholesale power supply.
Commissioner Ross further stated that LWL only generates enough cash to support and sustain its operations and equipment. Over the past years LWL has demonstrated several times that if expenses go down so do the rates.
Mr. William Cushing expressed his displeasure with the recent eleven (11) percent electric rate increase that went into effect on August 1st and stated that he is on a fixed social security income and cannot afford these types of increases. Mr. Cushing asked the BOC if they would consider a reduced rate for senior citizens and veterans similar to discounts on property taxes.
Mr. Ross stated that LWL has no mechanism in place to accommodate these types of programs similar to the systems benefits charge (Eversource) and that these types of discount programs are not free. Someone else would be subsidizing these discounts for him and others that would take advantage of this type of program and the costs would have to be passed through to the other users. In keeping the rates as low as possible all our customers benefit not just those on these types of discount programs.
Mr. Cushing stated that a warrant article at town meeting asking voters to approve these discounts programs would force LWL to reduce rates. He is sure that many others that are on fixed incomes and are veterans will vote for such a program.
Commissioner Sweet stated that is not as easy as it sounds. You would have to get an attorney involved to check to see if this is even legal, then draft up the proper language and determine how the program would be structured, who would qualify, and what the overall impact(s) will be to the rates before it could be placed on the ballot. Even then you are asking everyone else to pay higher rates so a small group of customers can benefit.
There was some back and forth discussion with regard to the merits of Mr. Cushing proposed rate discounts for senior citizens and veterans, no decision was made by the BOC.
Mr. Cushing proceeded to change the topic of discussion and stated that back during the early 1970ís he had an overhead line extension built on Broomstick Hill Road above Hampsonís mill to his grandfatherís camp. Mr. Cushing claims that he had a contract with the LWL to construct the line and paid for the work to accomplish this. He stated that he was of the understanding that he would receive some type of recoupment/ payback when others built on or beyond this section of line.
There was some general discussion with regard to how these types of programs worked back in that time. Superintendent Considine clarified and stated that back then LWL would finance selected overhead power lines and water main extension; a certain/agreed to dollar amount would be placed on the customer(s) monthly statement that would pay the department back over time. This program was stopped by the LWL shortly thereafter as it was determined not to be economical feasible nor equitable to use customer money to finance another project while raising the rates to do so. The current line extension policy is that customer pays LWL upfront at the time the work is requested. The customer is then eligible to recoup a depreciated (less 20% per year) amount of their construction cost (paid LWL) over a period of five (5) years if that section or a portion of the line is used by another.
Mr. Cushing stated that he had a contract with LWL and he does not feel that he was treated fairly in this matter and that LWL owes him money.
Commissioner Sweet stated that if he could produce the contract for LWL inspection then LWL would be more able to consider this matter in greater detail.
Following some additional discussion both Mr. Gelsi and Mr. Cushing thanked the BOC for their time and exited the meeting.
FINANCIAL DIRECTORS REPORT:
Mrs. Wilkins reviewed the highlights of the financial statements for the month ended June 2018 with the Commissioners. Several variances as compared to budget were discussed and explained by Mrs. Wilkins.
SUPERINTENDENT/ GENERAL MANAGERS REPORT:
Mr. Considine informed the BOC that LWL is making preparation to relocate a utility pole on Saranac Street in connection with the river district project. During preliminary design the sidewalk was changed from five (5) foot (standard) to eight (8) foot and LWL and others identified the poles location as a design constraint. A design modification was requested though it never happened. The utility pole in question is a newer pole installed during the Main Street project and was set to accommodate a standard five (5) foot sidewalk. To set and transfer the equipment (gain of about three (3) feet) to accommodate the new sidewalk width will require a significant amount of work that did not need to happen. The required work is neither feasible nor does it make economic or common sense and could have easily been resolved with a proper project design considerations. This was the rational used when LWL requested a design modification and why it was highlighted and discussed more than a year earlier during preliminary project design review. The time and labor to relocate and transfer this pole will be considerable, the gain minimal, and the added expense to LWL will increase our overall contributions to this project significantly which is already a point of contention with many.
GENERAL / OTHER BUSINESS:
No other business was discussed.
Commissioner Sweet made a motion to adjourn the meeting, seconded by
The vote was in favor of the motion 2-0-0.
Meeting adjourned at 2:00 p.m.
The regularly scheduled Commissionerís meeting is held twice monthly on the first and third Monday, at 1:00 p.m., in the Departmentís conference room.