THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE BOARD OF PUBLIC WORKS
March 15, 2021
The regular meeting of the Board of Public Works was held on March 15, 2021 at 4:00 pm in the City Council Chambers. Those in attendance were President John Neer, Vice President Brian Terry, Board Member David Ausmus, Board Member David Wilt, General Manager Stephanie Wilson, Assistant to the General Manager Benjamin Stueve, Controller Jennifer McLeland, Mayor James “Talt” Holman, City Administrator Avis Marshall and City Councilman Anthony Petre. Attending guests to present on agenda items were City Attorney R. Timothy Bickhaus and Adam Dorrell, P.E., Principal with Benton & Associates, Inc. Audience attendees were Ross Dutton and Scott Bigham. Assistant to the General Manager Bryce Butner was unable to attend.
President John Neer called the meeting to order at 4:00 pm and made a motion, seconded by Board Member David Ausmus, to approve the minutes from the February 22, 2021 special meeting. The motion carried with four votes for and none against.
Under old business, the first item on the agenda was Approval of Bid for North Water Tower Rehabilitation. A total of nine bids were received on January 20, 2021 for the project. Adam Dorrell with Benton & Associates, Inc. shared information about the tower conditions and was available to answer questions. After a brief discussion, Board Member David Ausmus made a motion, seconded by Vice President Brian Terry, to accept the interior and exterior rehabilitation bids from Utility Service Company Inc. in the amount of $395,100.00. The cathodic protection alternate bid option was not accepted. The process for a new logo design on the exterior of the tower will be discussed at future meetings. The motion passed with four votes for and none against.
Next on the agenda was Discussion and Recommendation of Board of Public Works By-Laws. City Attorney R. Timothy Bickhaus attended to share the purpose of by-laws and answer questions. After a discussion, President John Neer made a motion, seconded by Vice President Brian Terry, to recommend to the City Council of Macon, Missouri to adopt the suggested changes to the By-Laws of the Board of Public Works of Macon Municipal Utilities which included the following: 1) Additional verbiage in Section 200.15 Qualifications relating to board appointments and the noting of State of Missouri Statutes and City Code in various other sections, 2) in Section 200.25 Officers to remove the statement that the Board Secretary shall have a bond or Employee Fidelity Insurance payable, and 3) in Section 200.30 Meetings to change the meeting time to 5:00 pm on the third Monday of the month. The suggested changes will be submitted for review by the City Council of Macon, Missouri to be adopted via a resolution. The motion carried with four votes for and none against.
Under new business, was a Review of the Financials for February 2021. General Manager Stephanie Wilson shared that the events of Winter Storm Uri mid-February had a drastic impact on electric and natural gas commodity prices. While an electric commodity bill would have been anticipated to be in the $500 thousand range, it totaled $1.4 million dollars. Natural gas production was impacted by frozen wells and natural gas demand increased for heating and electric generation during the cold temperatures. For natural gas, MMU expensed $2.15 million for the month when $313,000 was anticipated.
Next on the agenda was a Review of the Cash Reserve Statement. Due to the unanticipated commodity expenses, General Manager Stephanie Wilson shared fund balances at the end of February 2021, discussion of projects scheduled for 2021 that could wait until a following year, and a projection of fund balances at the end of the year with assumptions in activity. This document will continue to be monitored over the next few months to prioritize expenses.
Next on the agenda was a discussion of Remittance of Payment for Electricity and Natural Gas Bills for February 2021. General Manager Stephanie Wilson shared that the remittance of payment for electricity is due on Thursday, March 18, 2021 and on March 19, 2021 for natural gas. MMU wired $1.9 million for natural gas on March 9, 2021, with a letter of protest, due to exceeding the $500,000 line of credit with a supplier. After a lengthy discussion, Board Member David Ausmus made a motion, seconded by Board Member Brian Terry, to pay the electric and natural gas commodities by the due dates using MMU funds. The motion noted that if relief funds and/or if zero interest loan funds become available that the information be brought to a future meeting. The motion carried with four votes for and none against.
Next item on the agenda was Discussion and Approval of a Plan to Recover Natural Gas Reserves.
General Manager Stephanie Wilson and Controller Jennifer McLeland presented two options for replenishing natural gas reserves over a period of 36 months, the amount exceeding the anticipated $313,000 commodity costs. Option 1 would be a constant adder to per unit of natural gas consumed and Option 2 places more weight in the summer months to reduce the burden on the customer during the winter months. Both options presented noted that the additional charges would be assessed beginning with April 2021 statements displayed separately as “Gas (ccf) 2021 Adder”. After a review of both options, Board Member David Ausmus made a motion, seconded by President John Neer, to adopt Option 2 and to review the plan annually:
Nov – May Statements Jun – October Statements
Residential Adder $0.17 per ccf $1.365 per ccf
Commercial Adder $0.12 per ccf $1.07 per ccf
Industrial Adder $0.085 per ccf $0.085 per ccf
The motion noted that the just under $1 million in electric commodity expenses incurred during the same period of time not be passed on to customers, but rather paid from reserves. The motion passed with three votes for and one against.
Next on the agenda was Approval of ConAgra Frozen Foods, Inc. Industrial User Permit. Sampling of effluent from the industrial pretreatment plant and influent to the wastewater treatment plant occurred from 2019 to 2021. After discussion of the permit, Vice President Brian Terry made a motion, seconded by Board Member David Ausmus, to approve the permit for a period of 5 years, April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2026, with no changes to the prior permit limits for Biochemical Oxygen Demand, Total Suspended Solids, Oil and Grease, and pH plus acknowledging the increased flow to 475,000 gallons per day previously approved. The motion passed with four votes for and none against.
Next on the agenda was a Review of City and MMU Utilities. President John Neer led the discussion with dialogue about efficiencies and utility expenses for MMU operated facilities and City of Macon owned and leased spaces.
Under manager reports, General Manager Stephanie Wilson shared the information about meeting with elected officials at the state and federal level regarding the vertical spike in electric and natural gas prices in February 2021, that annual enrollments for MMU’s Budget Billing program will be accepted until April 23, 2021, information about the discontinuation of credit card batch processing within the business office due to the process no longer being supported by the utility billing software provider, and various new construction updates were shared.
Assistants to the General Manager, Ben Stueve and Bryce Butner provided updates for the Macon and Audrain Energy Centers. At the Audrain site, maintenance on the VFD start motor failed was discussed. The unit went offline March 9, 2021 at 5:00 am and was brought back online March 12, 2021 at 2:49 pm. The Electric Distribution department facilitated a new service at the cell tower site on State Highway PP, cut trees from lines on various circuits, converted McDonald’s service to a new pad mount transformer, plus bored in primary conduits, set junction boxes and began pulling in primary wire for Agri-Genesis. For underground facilities, an 8” water main under the south water tower was abandoned and a 6-inch hot tap was made on an 8-inch main at the new headworks site at the wastewater treatment plant. For wastewater collection, lift station checks were performed and a section of 8-inch main was replaced near 607 and 701 Sunset Drive. For natural gas distribution, underground fuel lines were surveyed and assistance was provided on pressure issues at the Audrain Energy Center.
Regarding updates from Supervisor Ed Samel at the Water Treatment Plant, the manufacturer has been contacted regarding a warranty item for a bulk tank installed in 2019. Supervisor Ronny Smith at the Wastewater Treatment Plant noted that David Ross Construction has been onsite working on the new headworks project, weather permitting. Also, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources requested MMU to facilitate addition COVID-19 testing for four weeks. The additional testing of wastewater will begin on April 5, 2021.
After approval of accounts payable and setting the next regular meeting for Monday, April 19, 2021 at 5:00 pm upon adoption of the by-laws by the City Council, a motion was made by President John Neer, seconded by Vice President Brian Terry, to go into executive session regarding Legal (Rs. MO.610.021(1)) and Leasing, Purchase, or Sale of Real Estate (Rs. MO.610.021(2)). The motions were as follows: John Neer, yea; Brian Terry, yea; David Ausmus, yea; and David Wilt, yea.
When the open meeting reconvened, a motion was made by President John Neer, seconded by Vice President Brian Terry, to adjourn the meeting. The motion passed with four votes for and none against.
President John Neer adjourned the meeting at 6:30 pm.