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 business meeting of the Littleton Water and Light (LWL) Board of Commissioners (BOC) began at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, November 16, 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.
Guest present at meeting were Diane Cummings and Bruce Hadlock.
The minutes of the November 2, 2020 regularly scheduled Commissioners meeting were reviewed. Commissioner Cooper made a motion to accept the minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Ross.
The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0
CUSTOMER & PUBLIC CONCERNS:
Superintendent Considine discussed multiple concerns related to COVID 19. Commissioner Sweet articulated that it has been our past practice to follow the guidelines issued by the governor. The commissioners have confidence in managements decision to provide appropriate guidance.
Introduction of Mrs. Cummings from the Town of Littleton budget committee. She is interested in learning our budget process and discussed the Townís budget committee approach to budget review and process to recommend as part of the warrant.
Review of 2021 Budget (draft)
Mr. Considine presented the 2021 budget for water & electric.
Revenue flat once adjusted to remove the $420,745 grant received from American Rivers for the removal of the South Branch Dam which occurred in 2020.
Labor adjusted for 2.8% increase per union agreement otherwise no changes proposed in staffing profile.
PTEB the budget includes a true-up to actual coverage selected by positions that were filled in 2020 and a 1.5% net increase in the cost of benefits for 2021.
Expenses only minor changes based on our current projections with a discussion on adding new unused meters purchased (and expensed) in the year to inventory at the end of the year once our physical count is performed. Additionally, estimates on depreciation and slight adjustments for Oil and Propane based on negotiated fixed price contracts were made.
Current projections of $16,760 (adjusted) in surplus compared to a budgeted surplus of $54,977 for 2021. Adjusted for non-cash items, debt service and reserve funding will provide a change in cash of approximately $163,057 to fund future projects.
Brief discussion on vehicle rotation and funding assumptions.
Revenue assumptions and impact of COVID 19 were reviewed with respect to comparing 2020 projections with 2021 budget assumptions. Budget has been developed with anticipation of returning to pre-covid volume. We are not aware of any significant changes in customer needs other than the new NH Liquor Store which we anticipate having a neutral impact.
Cost of power, which is the most fluid and ever-changing line item. We are proposing a decrease in net power charges of $578,800 (wholesale power) which reflects the favorable pricing of forward contracts for 2021 energy and somewhat stable variable impact of unsecured needs/costs.
Labor and benefits same as indicated for water.
Expenses only minor changes based on our current projections with a slight reduction in vehicles expenses as our capital budget proposes a replacement of 2 trucks in 2021 which will reduce repair costs. Additionally, estimates on depreciation and slight adjustments for Oil and Propane based on negotiated fixed price contracts were made.
Current projections of ($243,428) deficit compared to a budgeted surplus of 485,940 for 2021. Adjusted for non-cash items, debt service and reserve funding will provide a change in cash of approximately $672,057 to fund future projects.
In summary, no rate change is being proposed for either water or electric for 2021. Reserve funding will continue to bring our net cash change to be $0 with not impact to the Town and the residents.
The Capital Budget will be presented at next meeting and Mr. Considine will continue to refine the operating budget. General questions on the scale of the capital projects to be proposed for 2021. The Capital Budget will not include significant funds for either the water or electric that will require LWL to solicit a bond through town meeting warrant process.
Following some additional follow up questions by Mrs. Cummings about the remainder of the budget and capital equipment process Mrs. Cummings thanked the BOC for the invitation and exited the meeting with Mr. Hadlock at about 2:45 p.m.
DIRECTOR of FINANCE AND HUMAN RESOURCES REPORT:
Mrs. Hogan has requested that the auditors move up their preliminary work considering the changing responses to COVID 19. Work has begun and will be conducted remotely.
SUPERINTENDENT/ GENERAL MANAGERS REPORT:
Mr. Considine reported on the results of two (2) recent power supply procurements to secure forward (hedge) agreements that LWL entered at the request of the BOC.
1. NextEra Energy agreed to extend the energy portion of their current energy and capacity contract from 2026 through 2030. The power only agreement was priced $0.12 (12 cents) per MWH lower than initially expected and a rate of $43.80 per MWH and confirmed by both LWL and NextEra. Over the five (5) term of the new agreement the value of the contract is about $9,594,400. The agreement represents about 20% of our consumption (base load) and furthers our rate stabilization approach.
2. Resources for January and February 2021 (Winter) were secured by LWL through the competitive bid solicitation. A total of four (4) power suppliers participated in the solicitation with EDF Energy being the successful low bidder with a rate of $52.85 as opposed to LWL budget figure of $65 per MWH. The total agreement with EDF amounts to $67,648 for the two months.
The LWL BOC received an email request from the Littleton Selectmenís office for a proposed date/time to meet with each board and their representatives to discuss a resolution to the current DRA requirement that LWL comply with the Municipal Budget Act. Following some general discussion, it was agreed that Mr. Considine will reach out to LWLís legal representative to coordinate a proposed meeting with the Littleton BOS when LWL legal is ready and the fact finding is complete.
There being no further business to come before the board Commissioner Ross made a motion to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Commissioner Cooper.
The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0.
Meeting adjourned at 3:10 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.