Serving the Community since 1903

Minutes of Littleton Water and Light Meetings

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.

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Regular Meeting Sep 14, 2020

The regularly scheduled business meeting of the Littleton Water and Light (LWL) Board of Commissioners (BOC) began at 1:00 p.m. on Monday,
September 14, 2020 in the LWL conference room. Present were Commissioner Schuyler Sweet, Commissioner Ralph Ross, Commissioner Peter Cooper, Director of Finance Lori Hogan and Superintendent Thomas Considine.


MINUTES REVIEW:

The minutes of the August 17, 2020 regularly scheduled Commissioners meeting were reviewed. Commissioner Ross made a motion to accept the minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Cooper.

The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0


FINANCIAL DIRECTORS REPORT:

1. Mrs. Hogan discussed the flexible benefits plan offered by our insurance providers with the BOC that would cost LWL some minimal administrative time to set up. The plan allows employers to take deduction for health and dental premiums from employees (employees share) before taxes are calculated. This would result in an increase to the employees take home pay due to taxes being calculated on lower gross pay.

Following some additional discussion Commissioner Ross made a motion to enroll LWL in the flexible benefits plan with our benefits provider, seconded by Commissioner Cooper.

The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0

2. Health Thrust (LWL’s insurance provider) is providing a benefits/premium rebate to LWL due to the better than anticipated performance of the Health Trust group. It is suggested by management that any rebate LWL receives as a direct result of Health Trust performance true-up is used to offset any pending 2021 premium increases in lieu of placing the rebate in general fund.

The Commissioners agreed that as the expected rebated funds resulted in premium overpayments made by LWL and its employees. It is reasonable to return any funds rebated by Health Trust and apply those funds to the applicable cost center that they were expensed against.

Commissioner Cooper made a motion that any funds rebated by Health Trust are to be used to offset pending 2021 premium increases, seconded by Commissioner Ross.

The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0

3. Following some discussion about the importance of human resources (HR) management to LWL, Commissioner Cooper made a motion to authorized Mrs. Hogan’s enrollment (next session) in a remote learning HR certification program (SHRM), seconded by Commissioner Ross.

The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0

4. Mrs. Hogan reviewed the highlights of the financial statements for the month ended July 2020 with the Commissioners. Several variances as compared to budget were discussed and explained by Mrs. Hogan.

5. Mrs. Hogan provided the BOC a power point handout regarding the Employee Social Security Tax Deferral program. The tax deferral program is being implemented by a Presidential memorandum and managed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and US Treasury. The program allows the deferral (expected repayment) of withholding of social security taxes (6.25%) from eligible wages for employers from September through December. If allowed by LWL BOC eligible employees would decide for themselves to participate or not in the program and whether to incur a tax debt. Employees would be responsible for repayment and would in effect be paying double the social security tax begin in January 2021 until the debt is repaid. The risk to LWL is minimal as LWL employee will be required to record their intent in writing and will also acknowledge in writing that this is a deferral program and that repayment is mandatory.

Following some additional discussion Commissioner Cooper made a motion to authorize eligible LWL employees the opportunity to choose for themselves to participate in the Social Security tax deferral program or opt out. This motion is with the understanding that if an employee participate that they are incurring a tax debt that they are required to repay being in January 2021. Seconded by Commissioner Ross.

The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0


SUPERINTENDENT/ GENERAL MANAGERS REPORT:

1. Mr. Considine discussed the results of the recent wholesale power supply solicitation with the BOC. Requests for quotations (RFQ) were for projected resources needed in the fiscal 2021-2023 operating years. RFQ’s were received and reviewed by LWL and Daymark Energy Consultants on Wednesday, August 26, 2020. Four (4) firms provided quotes for future resources for LWL consideration that ranged in price from $45/MW to $41/MW for on peak and off peak, respectively. As the prices offered were substantially higher than what was expected. As are result of price received and the resources immediately under contract for 2021 all bids were rejected. It is expected that another power supply solicitation will be conducted late this fall.

2. Construction progress and the work required to remove the dam on the South Branch of the Gale River in Bethlehem is progressing well. The concrete portion of the dam is removed as of this meeting. River channel and bank restoration effort and the grading on the westerly side of the river will soon begin. It is expected that major work efforts will be completed by the end of September 2020.

3. The overhead line circuit on High Street is complete except for some landscaping at various location damaged by construction activities. The work completed was a full replacement of existing overhead circuit/conductor and support equipment that has been on LWL book since 2014. The complete overhead circuit between Pleasant Street and Maple Street was replaced including new poles, wire, and other equipment. This resulted in providing functionality to interconnect (2) 3-phase overhead circuits to allow future switching flexibility and load management alternatives.

4. On called personnel responded to a water leak (about 179 GPM) reported at about 5:00 p.m. at the junction of Brickyard Road and West Main street on Wednesday, September 9, 2020. A 1-inch hole was found in the 8-inch ductile iron water main and was repaired. It appears that a chlorination test corporation (most likely explanation) used during installation for disinfection and pressure testing that was directly tapped to the watermain failed causing the leak.


GENERAL/OTHER BUSINESS:

1. The BOC discussed a letter dated May 8, 2020 to the town manager from the NH Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) regarding LWL’s participation in town meeting process in accordance with the Municipal Budget Act. Several meetings have taken place between the BOC and Town of Littleton Selectmen (BOS) and the topic was recently leaked to the newspapers.

The BOC is concerned with the answers or lack thereof following their initial meeting and discussions with the BOS. The BOC have expressed grave concern as to the full long-term effects of the Municipal Budget Act if LWL were to capitulate. What are the effects of participating in this process going to be regarding LWL’s ability to maintain an economic rate structure free of political interference and bias? There are other concerns relative to the supporting documents requested by the DRA through the town’s attorney. LWL provided the supporting document to the town in good faith, whether the town forwarded the documents the DRA remains unanswered. Why has the DRA not contacted LWL directly to discuss this topic and a potential resolution? There are other contributing factors that are questionable that are of concern to the BOC as well.

Following some additional discussion Commissioner Ross made a motion to inform the BOS that LWL will not comply with the DRA letter dated May 8, 2020 to the TM at this time and that LWL will solicit a legal opinion to address the BOC outstanding concerns surrounding this matter. Seconded by Commissioner Cooper.

The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0

Commissioner Sweet stated that if the BOC did not have an objection that he would personally contact the select board individually and advised them of the BOC vote taken. Without objection.

2. The BOC was presented with a draft copy of LWL’s proposed water drought emergency implementation policy and plan for their review and comment. Though LWL supply is low it is not at a critical point. Generally, LWL customer are very responsive to LWL request to voluntarily conserve water. Considering the current lack of rain and if there is not sufficient snow pack this year LWL may face a more serious drought condition that may require stronger enforcement and mitigation measures may be implemented and the policy would be needed in some cases.


MEETING ADJOURNMENT:

There being no further business to come before the board Commissioner Cooper made a motion to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Commissioner Ross.

The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0.

Meeting adjourned at 2:46 p.m.

The regularly scheduled Commissioner’s meeting is held twice monthly on the first and third Monday, at 1:00 p.m., in the Department’s conference room.


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