By David Hazledine
NORTH WEBSTER — Lakeland Regional Sewer District board of trustees approved its 2022 budget during a monthly public meeting Wednesday, Oct. 20. The total estimated budget is $1,670,000.
Treasurer Mike DeWald also predicted the district should end 2021 roughly $57,800 better than expected, though he conceded the collection of liens from 2020 failure to connect penalties “clouds the picture going forward.”
With the warranties on district equipment running out and, as Bob Marcuccilli pointed out, utilities costs likely to go up, the board decided to increase the proposed 2022 repair and maintenance budget by $10,000 to $38,000.
The district’s asset repair fund has also grown faster than expected, leading board president Jim Haney to suggest members decide when it should be utilized. Parke Smith commented data from older sewer districts may show trends which could help with future projections.
The board waived late payments penalties on Lake Estates, which showed it made the payment on time but used the wrong mailing address. Haney was the sole naysayer and Frank Kurth abstained.
Another request to waive a late fee received one day late was denied. A motion to deny the request passed six to one, with Joe Cleland voting no.
During Astbury Water Technologies monthly report, the board voted to install a 10-inch riser on a grinder pump lid to counteract drainage problems at 45 EMS B48A Lane at a cost of $275 to be paid by the owner. Although the owner requested an 8-inch riser, Astbury’s Don Neff stated ordinances require grinder lids be 2 inches above grade, and the 10-inch riser was necessary to remain in compliance.
Discussion about whether or not to replace the wastewater plant’s 6mm influent screen at the head of the plant with a 3mm screen revealed disagreements between Astbury, which operates the plant, and DLZ Engineering, the plant designer.
Astbury workers hoped to use the opportunity of a crane being brought in to replace worn brushes to also switch to the finer mesh. As Matt Rippey explained, removing solids before they get into the system will improve plant performance by preventing buildup. Rippey and Neff agreed the current screen is not catching enough of the solids, partly because the grinders are creating very fine particles. “It’s unusual to not have the screen collecting anything,” said Rippey.
DLZs engineer William Boyle Jr., however, asserted the screen is doing its job and finer mesh could create buildup at the influent screen. Boyle later noted only 5% of similar-type plants use a 3mm screen.
Noting a “huge disconnect between operator and designer,” Haney directed Astbury and DLZ to work together to provide “clear cut direction to the board.”
Further discussion revealed yet more disagreement, this time between Haney and Tom Astbury, Astbury’s director of business development, about Astbury’s contract with the district and which jobs should be considered “special preventative maintenance” and therefore billable over and above its normal rate.
Astbury maintained the brush replacement work and other jobs such as rebuilding grinder pumps are special preventative maintenance.
Later in the meeting, when Haney recalled Neff had suggested Astbury Water Technologies rebuild and repair pumps in-house in 2019 when the district was having difficulty getting pumps repaired and returned by the vendor, Astbury replied normally such work is “not something we want to get involved with.” He also noted the difficulty in finding skilled labor to perform engine rebuilds in recent years.
Haney requested Astbury employees obtain bids for regular grinder pump repair moving forward. He also requested Chris Nussbaum of Carson LLP, the district’s legal representative, review the existing agreement with Astbury.