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Hampden Township Sewer Authority

Regular Meeting Minutes

July 18,  2017 – 7:00 P.M.

 

PRESENT WERE:

Sewer Auth. Members:          Chairman Thomas, Mr. Todaro, Mr. Gaspich, Mr. Sullivan and Ms. Knight

Consultants:                             Solicitors Cooper and Coyne

Commissioners’ Liaison:        Commissioner Thomas

Township Staff:                      Township Manager Metts, Public Works Director Miller and Stormwater Superintendent Gralski

 

 

 

 Also Present:

Special Counsel Hann

ARCADIS – Anthony Dill and Mark Van Auken

Junior Commissioner Harshan Sivaraju

Call To Order

Chairman Thomas called the stormwater portion of the meeting to order at approximately 7:15 p.m. upon conclusion of the sanitary agenda items.  Proof of Publication was available for public inspection.

Audience Participation

None

Stormwater Agenda

Treasurer’s Report

The Treasurer’s Report for the period ending June 30, 2017 was accepted as presented.

Approval of Minutes

MOTION: by Mr. Todaro approving the minutes of the June 20, 2017 Regular   Meeting.  The motion, seconded by Ms. Knight, carried unanimously.

Approval of Administrative Payments

Check No. 1390 – Goldberg Katzman, P.C. – Professional Services – $270.00

Check No. 1391 – ARCADIS – Professional Services – $5,063.00

MOTION: by Mr. Gaspich approving the above-described payments.  The motion, seconded by Ms. Knight, carried unanimously.

Right-of-Way Solicitor’s Report

Solicitor Cooper said he had nothing to report at this time.

Solicitor’s Report

Solicitor Coyne said he had nothing to report at this time.

Commissioners’ Liaison Report  

Commissioner Thomas said he had nothing to report at this time.

Township Manager’s Report

Manager Metts advised the members that letters were sent, as directed, to the Pennsylvania State Auditor General and the United States Comptroller; responses have not yet been received.  He said, however, that he spoke with a staff member of the Auditor General’s Office who assured him that if the Auditor General’s Office was not the appropriate venue to consider this matter a response would be provided advising to whom the letter should be sent.

Manager Metts said he also spoke with John Brosious, Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association (PMAA), who indicated his willingness to meet; Manager Metts said he would follow-up on this.  Chairman Thomas said that meeting is to explore the possibility of PMAA introducing mutual beneficial legislation.

Manager Metts requested authorization approving the below-described transfers:

Expense reimbursement to Hampden Township – $91,937.09

Transfer from Hampden Township – $5,467.08

MOTION: by Ms. Knight approving the above-listed transfers as requested by   Township Manager Metts.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Todaro.

Approval of Administrative Payments

Check No. 1390 – Goldberg Katzman, P.C. – Professional Services – $270.00

Check No. 1391 – ARCADIS – Professional Services – $5,063.00

MOTION: by Mr. Gaspich approving the above-described payments.  The motion, seconded by Ms. Knight, carried unanimously.

Right-of-Way Solicitor’s Report

Solicitor Cooper said he had nothing to report at this time.

Solicitor’s Report

Solicitor Coyne said he had nothing to report at this time.

Commissioners’ Liaison Report  

Commissioner Thomas said he had nothing to report at this time.

Township Manager’s Report

Manager Metts advised the members that letters were sent, as directed, to the Pennsylvania State Auditor General and the United States Comptroller; responses have not yet been received.  He said, however, that he spoke with a staff member of the Auditor General’s Office who assured him that if the Auditor General’s Office was not the appropriate venue to consider this matter a response would be provided advising to whom the letter should be sent.

Manager Metts said he also spoke with John Brosious, Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association (PMAA), who indicated his willingness to meet; Manager Metts said he would follow-up on this.  Chairman Thomas said that meeting is to explore the possibility of PMAA introducing mutual beneficial legislation.

Manager Metts requested authorization approving the below-described transfers:

Expense reimbursement to Hampden Township – $91,937.09

Transfer from Hampden Township – $5,467.08

MOTION: by Ms. Knight approving the above-listed transfers as requested by   Township Manager Metts.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Todaro.

Question on the Motion:  Ms. Knight asked if the above amounts were consistent with the budget.  Manager Metts confirmed the amounts were consistent but noted expenses and revenues are higher than last year even though there are two outstanding high receivables.

Motion carried unanimously.

Public Works Department Report

Stormwater Division Report – Mr. Gralski reviewed the monthly activities report included in the members’ packets.  He said 39 of the required 75 outfalls have been inspected this year and 101 Best Management Practices (BMPs) have been inspected to date.  He also said Township staff replaced two (2) complete inlets, nine (9) inlet tops and rehabilitated three (3) inlets.

Mr. Gralski further reported that General Permits required for the anticipated replacement of the Beech Run Culvert and repair of the Sears Run Culvert Abutments were submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.  Mr. Miller said the specifications are complete for the Beach Run Project and requested authorization to bid the project.  He noted that this would be the first “brick and mortar” project for the Authority, absent from those activities associated with the street paving projects.  He said the estimate for this project is $85,000.00 to $100,000.00.

Ms. Knight questioned if that estimate is consistent with the budget.  Mr. Miller said it is but noted the Authority did not formally adopt a budget this year.  He said the Township has a stormwater budget as required by code.  Discussion followed after which Mr. Miller said, if the Authority authorizes bidding the project, he would provide a spreadsheet showing the budget status and provide confirmation of those numbers.

MOTION: by Mr. Todaro to authorize advertising the Beech Run Culvert Replacement Project.  The motion, seconded by Ms. Knight, carried unanimously.

Joint Land Use Study – Mr. Miller said a kick-off meeting will be held at the Township Building on Monday, July 24, 2017, 3:00 p.m. for both the technical and management committees.

Master Plan Update by ARCADIS – Anthony Dill and Mark Van Auken attended to provide an update on the Master Plan.  Mr. Miller said the three major items relative to the Master Plan include the development of a stormwater operation and maintenance plan, a capital improvement plan and a flood mitigation plan.

Mr. Van Auken said evaluation was conducted by ARCADIS on the following items:

  • Street sweeping operations and PA Department of Environmental Protection removal efficiencies/requirements and possible MS4 credit;
  • Leaf collection Program – evaluated a decrease in this level of service based upon peer community analyses;
  • Five year program for inlet inspections along secondary roads as well as maintaining  annual inspections of inlets on primary roads and in known historic problem areas;
  • Evaluate the cost effectiveness of hiring an outside contractor to televise all storm sewers during 2018-19, again targeting known problem areas and those important areas for public safety;
  • Risk Based Asset Management Program that would assist in prioritizing replacement and/or repairs of culverts and storm sewers;
  • Flood Abatement Modeling – work continues to assist in identifying issues and evaluating improvement options;
  • Evaluation of some private facilities is on-going in known critical areas; this includes determining what impact failing facilities has on the overall system

Mr. Van Auken said ARCADIS is recommending the dry pond at the Public Works Facility be retrofitted in order to enhance performance, improve the water quality and potentially obtain MS4 credit.  He also said ARCADIS is recommending repairing the emergency spillway and replacing the trash rack at Good Hope Station.

Mr. Gralski then provided a presentation regarding stormwater infrastructure needs on private lands.  His presentation depicted examples of failing stormwater pipes, Authority outfalls, privately-owned BMPs and other maintenance problems.  He said under the current process the property owner is responsible for repairs of stormwater infrastructure deficiencies on their properties.  After general discussion, Mr. Miller said if a decision is made to take ownership of some or all private facilities, ARCADIS will be tasked to develop criteria to determine which facilities should be taken over, as well as those that should not.

Special Counsel Hann then addressed the members.  He said the answer to some ownership questions could be found on property deeds and/or other recorded legal documents but cautioned this may not be the case with older developments.

Special Counsel Hann suggested a letter be sent to property owners stating a problem has been identified on the owner’s property, along with a request for the owner to remedy the situation.  He said, generally, an authority does not have the power to access private property to address a specific issue.  He said the Township might, however, based upon developer agreements, operation and maintenance agreements and/or Township codes regarding general health and safety.

Special Counsel Hann said each property is unique and suggested documentation for each property be reviewed, if possible.  He noted that due to the MS4 Permit and the obligations associated with that Permit, one option available would be reporting issues to the PA Department of Environmental Protection.

Manager Metts asked that if non-residential properties are held accountable for compliance but the Township comes to the “rescue” for residential properties, would there be an issue with how funds are allocated and spent.  Special Counsel Hann said the obligation exists to assess uniform and reasonable fees, which is currently being done; he said there is little more discretion as to how those funds are spent.  He said in order to get the most benefit for the amount spent, projects should be prioritized.

Chairman Thomas asked if the Authority has the ability to force owners to remedy the situation.  He said the Authority has been discussing the possibility of approaching property owners to seek an easement to gain access to the pipe on that owner’s property and asked if a legal avenue exists to do so.

Special Counsel Hann said this could be done if the Authority owned a portion of a pipe for which access is needed.  Chairman Thomas asked if this would be the case even if the Authority does not own the pipe.  Special Counsel Hann said the pipe is part of the MS4 system, therefore, the leap could be made that the Authority either owns or operates the pipe.  He said, however, this could result in a huge responsibility.  He said he was unsure if the Authority should make that leap if the pipe is on private property and not part of the MS4 system.

Mr. Miller said, as an example, the street, pipe and inlet are part of the MS4 system.  There then is a pipe that goes from the street and across private property at the right-of-way line.  He said at that point there is no further dedication to the Township or the Authority and asked who is responsible.  Special Counsel Hann said that is the point at which the Authority’s ownership is cut off.  Mr. Miller said there remains the obligation to inspect that outfall because it conveys to the Township/Authority’s MS4.

Mr. Gaspich agreed but noted the Authority does not own that pipe.  Special Counsel Hann said it would be the property owner’s responsibility because the pipe is on that owner’s property.  Mr. Miller asked that if the Authority decides to maintain that pipe, would the mechanism that would allow the Authority to do so be the property owner dedicating the pipe to the Authority along with an easement.  Special Counsel Hann said the Authority also would have the power of eminent domain.

Mr. Todaro asked if the stormwater fee could be used to purchase the pipe.  Mr. Gaspich suggested a payment plan could be considered, similar to what has been offered in the pastfor tap fees.  Mr. Miller said the difference is the tap fee serves a specific property but the facilities being discussed this evening could serve an entire, or part of a, development.

Mr. Miller said an evaluation by ARCADIS indicates of the 200 plus outfalls on private property, 95 convey water from dedicated streets.  He suggested those that do not convey water from the Township’s streets should not be an obligation of the Township or the Authority.  Mr. Todaro asked if the remaining ones could be prioritized and then addressed one by one.  Mr. Miller said ARCADIS will establish criteria that would assist in that prioritization.  Special Counsel Hann suggested the first step, again, would be identifying ownership and then prioritizing the remaining issues and establishing the process.

Mr. Miller said there are two alternatives – either the Authority undertakes the repairs or the property owner does.  He said ARCADIS was tasked with developing criteria which may or may not recommend that the Authority take over facilities on private properties; he said they were also tasked with advising the Authority of the financial impacts for acceptance of those private facilities.  He suggested further discussions be delayed until ARCADIS finalizes its evaluation.  Mr. Todaro asked for clarification as to what facilities ARCADIS will be analyzing.  Mr. Miller said the known private facilities will not be part of that evaluation.  Mr. Gaspich asked if ARCADIS is actively checking the private/public status of those properties.  Mr. Miller suggested that task could occur when a defect is identified.

Ms. Knight said she appreciated this evening’s conversation but suggested delaying action until such time that a process is developed and agreed upon rather than addressing issues on an ad hoc basis.  Mr. Gaspich asked that an inventory be performed to show what information or documentation exists that could enable the Authority to state that 95 of the issues could be reduced.  Mr. Miller committed Township staff to performing that task and then provide a summary of the findings to ARCADIS.

Manager Metts suggested letters be sent at this time only to those properties on which inspections have been performed and Operation and Maintenance Agreements exist; the members agreed with that suggestion.

Mr. Van Auken then said that upon completion of the modeling, alternatives will be developed to address flood mitigation projects which would provide a better picture of the budget as a whole.  Mr. Miller said the budget will be evaluated and finalized after which the Authority will be provided with recommendations relative to the level of service, capital improvement projects, and a recommendation concerning private facilities and how that would affect the budget.  He said at that time, ARCADIS will seek direction from the Authority as to finalizing the report and completing the plan.  Mr. Van Auken said work with staff will continue over the next month or so regarding the issue of private property.

Mr. Miller said the criteria concerning private facilities includes determining if an Operation and Maintenance Agreement is in place, if there is a note on the recorded plan and if an is easement shown on the plan.  Mr. Gaspich said other criteria would be any reference to and/or drawings of pipes on the plan.

The Authority thanked ARCADIS for its presentation.

Executive Session

MOTION: by Mr. Gaspich to convene an Executive Session for the purpose of discussing potential legal issues.  The motion, seconded by Ms. Knight, carried unanimously.

Chairman Thomas stated for the record that an Executive Session was held from 9:10 p.m. to approximately 9:25 p.m. during which no action was taken nor decisions made.

Authority Members 

MOTION: by Ms. Knight asking the Township to evaluate transferring available Authority funds to a Pennsylvania Local Government Investment Trust (PLGIT) account.  The motion, seconded by Mr. Gaspich, carried unanimously.

 MOTION: by Ms. Knight authorizing Mr. Gaspich’ s attendance at the AICPA Governmental Accounting and Auditing Conference next month.  The motion, seconded by Mr. Todaro, carried with Mr. Gaspich abstaining.  

Adjournment

MOTION:  by Mr. Todaro adjourning the Regular Meeting at approximately 9:31 p.m.  The motion, seconded by Ms. Knight, carried unanimously.

_________________________________

Judy K. Robinson

Recording Secretary