Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Work Session

Minutes of May 13, 2013

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on May 13, 2013 in the Township meeting room at 8 PM. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Michael Gallagher, Secretary/Treasurer Ryan W. Gallagher, Esq., and Philip Calabro, member. Not present was Vice Chairman Matthew Benchener and Robert Ciervo, member. Also present were Kurt Ferguson, Township Manager and Michele Fountain, Township Engineer .

Members of the audience included: Warren Gormley, Newtown, Bucks County, Joint Municipal Authority; Eric Johnson, Newtown, Bucks County, Joint Municipal Authority; Tony Elberti, Gannett Fleming; Ed Woyden, Gannett Fleming; Peter Beckschi, Newtown, Bucks County, Joint Municipal Authority; Lou Schiller, Newtown, Bucks County, Joint Municipal Authority; Allen Fidler, Newtown, Bucks County, Joint Municipal Authority; Skip Goodnoe, Newtown, Bucks County, Joint Municipal Authority; Dave Callahan, Newtown, Bucks County, Joint Municipal Authority; Sarita Tirpak, Newtown, Bucks County, Joint Municipal Authority; Kyle Davis, Township resident; Bill Bolla, Newtown Borough; Larry Auerweck, Newtown Borough; Perry Warren, Newtown Borough; Bob King, Newtown Borough; Charles Machion, Newtown Borough; and Jeff Warner, Bucks County Advance.

Call to Order

Chairman Michael Gallagher called the meeting to order at 8:11 P.M., he apologized for the delayed start due to the Police Memorial Mass. He requested everyone to join him in a moment of silence. He advised the public that there was a change to tonight’s agenda, there would be no discussions with John McGrath regarding the Villas at Newtown development.

Community Comments

None.

Discussion

Discussion with the Sewer Authority

Mr. Johnson thanked the Township officials for hosting tonight’s meeting. He also thanked members of Newtown Borough Council and representatives from the Newtown, Bucks County, Joint Municipal Authority for attending tonight’s presentation. He advised that tonight’s meeting was to present an alternative to today’s current situation with waste disposal and discuss adding alternatives to the municipalities Act 537. He commented on the preliminary work done by the NBCJMA and introduced Mr. Woyden and Mr. Elberti. He noted that Gannett Fleming has served the NBCJMA since 1964.

Mr. Woyden updated the Township on their potential options and presented a Power Point presentation. He noted that the Borough has already completed their Act 537 plan. He advised that the NBCJMA former sewer plant was located in the Town Commercial District. The NBCJMA is proposing to construct a new plant on the location of the former plant. He commented on the rate increases since partnering with the Bucks County Sewer & Water Authority. They are requesting the Township to consider a waste water treatment plant as an alternative in their Act 537 plan analysis. He noted that there have been discussions with the DEP. He advised that the current flow of waste water is approximately 2 million gallons per day and that the proposed plant would be designed to handle 2.5 million gallons per day. The type of facility being proposed is a Membrane Bio Reactor (MBR). The preliminary cost estimates are approximately $68,397,500.

Mr. Gormley advised that currently the waste water flows into the Neshaminy and Core Creek interceptors. The $68,397,500 includes the cost of rerouting the flow back to the treatment plant.

Mr. Woyden and Mr. Elberti reported on the reviews with regards to bond rates. Their calculations are using a rate of 3.250%.

Mr. Elberti discussed the rates for BCWSA verses the NBCJMA’s new wastewater treatment plant.

Mr. Woyden discussed the advantages and disadvantages of building a new wastewater treatment plant.

Mr. Ferguson inquired with regards to controlling odors now compared to twenty (20) years ago. Mr. Woyden and Mr. Elberti advised on how odors can be controlled. Their presentation provided photographs of various facilities throughout the county.

Mr. Elberti advised on how a MBR facility works.

Mr. Machion inquired as to how long the technology of the MBR system has been in existence. Mr. Woyden advised that MBR systems have been around for approximately ten (10) years. He commented on a plant in Chalfont, PA. Mr. Johnson advised on the possible reuses of the wastewater once it has been treated.

Supervisor Gallagher inquired as to where the wastewater would be discharged. Mr. Johnson advised that the water would be discharged into the Neshaminy Creek; he also advised that Gannett Fleming has performed a water test on what is presently in the creek and that the results were presented to the DEP for discussion and that the DEP was pleased with the type of facility being proposed.

Mr. Machion commented on the low interest rates and inquired on the timeline to have the plant approved and built. He questioned the bond rates. Mr. Johnson advised that discussions regarding the bond have already been started; the NBCJMA has started interviewing bond companies and have been advised that they can obtain a bond on their own. Mr. Woyden advised that with regards to the timing, the completed project would take between four (4) to five (5) years; he reported on how long it would take to write, review and approve the Act 537 plan, the time involved with the awarding the bidding process, the design time for the project and the time involved to construct the project. Mr. Ferguson noted that it would be approximately thirty-six (36) months before going out for the bond.

Mr. Ferguson discussed the current interest rates and the long term value of the costs.

Mr. Woyden commented on the graph regarding the total annual debt service and operational costs.

Mr. Johnson advised that the City of Philadelphia has over two million customers, the BCWSA has over three hundred thousand customers and that the Newtown area has approximately eighty-five hundred.

Mr. King commented on the reason for closing the original treatment plant being regionalization. Mr. Gormley and Mr. Johnson advised that the NBCJMA has had several meetings with the DEP and reported on discussions with Jennifer Fields, Regional Director.

Mr. King inquired on the lifespan of the type of plant being proposed. Mr. Woyden and Mr. Elberti advised that the lifespan is approximately thirty (30) years, but that the infrastructure’s lifecycle is roughly fifty (50) years.

Mr. King inquired if the 2.5 MGD treatment capacity will be enough for the Newtown area. Mr. Woyden discussed the growth of the Township and Borough and noted that the 2.5 MGD plant size will depend on Act 537 plan.

Mr. Ferguson commented on the Borough’s Act 537 plan being completed and inquired on how does what is being proposed impact that plan. Mr. Johnson advised that the NBCJMA feels so strongly about the proposed project that they would be willing to pay for the Borough to do a new plan as well as the Township’s plan.

Chairman Gallagher inquired on the 1.3 million deficit the first year and how that reflects on the projected rates. Mr. Johnson commented on how the bond could be structured and noted that money can be made without affecting the ratepayers; he discussed the possibility of selling the wastewater. There was discussion on what other municipalities are paying. Mr. Johnson noted that there would most likely be a modest increase and that the DEP is in favor of what is being proposed.

There was discussion regarding how the NBCJMA has kept their cost so low over the years.

Mr. Gormley reported on the condition of the NBCJMA’s current system and the number of employees.

Mr. Warren commented on the current minimum fee to ratepayers being $57. He inquired on the fees paid to BCWSA and the annual operating budget. Mr. Johnson advised on the costs paid to BCWSA and that the current operating budget is $4.4 Million.

Mr. Warren inquired on the number of employees. Mr. Johnson advised that the plant would not need to be manned 24/7, the hours of operation would be 8 – 4:30, two (2) additional employees would need to be hired.

Mr. Elberti advised that operator forums are held by the various vendors.

Mr. Johnson reported that the facility would be designed to green standards.

Supervisor Gallagher inquired on the filtering process with regards to the wastewater. Mr. Elberti advised on the process and discussed possible reuses of the solid waste.

Supervisor Gallagher inquired on how often the solid waste would need to be trucked out. Mr. Elberti advised that the waste would probably need to be trucked out every other week.

Mr. King questioned how long it would be before a developer could hookup to the system. Mr. Woyden commented on the current Bucks County system, correspondence from the DEP with regards to the BCWSA prohibition on connections based on a projected hydraulic overload. He discussed needing a connection management plan and approval needed from the DEP. He advised that he does not know where the BCWSA is in their discussions with the DEP.

Chairman Gallagher inquired if there is a moratorium in the County and noted that the Township recently passed a fully engineered planning module that was approved by the Sewer Authority and the County. Mr. Woyden reported on the correspondence received from the DEP to the BCWSA and the NBCJMA regarding overload and a connection management plan.

Supervisor Gallagher questioned how many other municipalities in Bucks County have their own plants. Mr. Woyden advised that Morrisville and Bristol have their own plants.

Mr. Gormley advised that there are thirteen (13) municipalities that need to redo their Act 537 plan.

Supervisor Gallagher commented on the loan for the proposed facility being thirty (30) years and the projected lifespan of the plant being thirty (30) years. Mr. Woyden discussed the various components of a wastewater treatment plant and noted that the infrastructure should last between fifty (50) and seventy (70) years; other operating equipment would need to be replaced earlier.

Supervisor Calabro inquired if there would be a replacement schedule. Mr. Woyden advised that there would be a budgeting process for replacement costs.

Supervisor Calabro inquired on other municipalities with similar systems, the cost to users and the quality of services provided. Mr. Gormley and Mr. Johnson reported on what other municipalities are charging and that some neighboring municipalities are having major problems with regards to hydraulic overloads. Mr. Johnson noted that he feels that other municipalities will follow suit and that the most important thing to the NBCJMA is protecting the ratepayers.

Chairman Gallagher inquired on how what is being proposed will affect Wrightstown and Upper Makefield. Mr. Woyden commented with regards to the engineering side and the Township Engineer writing the ACT 537 plan. Mr. Gormley discussed the use of interceptors by other municipalities, the ACT 537 being controlled by the municipality and that the NBCJMA would need to redo their charter.

Chairman Gallagher commented with regards the NBCJMA’s contract with the BCWSA being terminated. Mr. Johnson advised that the dispute between NBCJMA and BCWSA goes to trial at the end of the month.

Mrs. Fountain inquired on how preliminary is the study presented tonight and if there something in writing that could be provided to the Township and Borough. Mr. Woyden and Mr. Johnson reported that the study is in the preliminary stages and that a hard copy of the Power Point presentation could be provided. They noted that if what is being proposed is included in the Township’s Act 537 plan a thorough study would be completed.

Mrs. Fountain questioned the discussions with the DEP. Mr. Johnson advised that copies of the minutes from meetings with the DEP could be forwarded to the Township. Chairman Gallagher requested copies of the minutes be forwarded to Mr. Ferguson and that he would share the information with Mrs. Fountain.

Mrs. Fountain commented on the DEP statement being vague. Mr. Woyden read the email sent by Jennifer Fields (DEP) to Warren Gormley on May 10, 2013.

Mrs. Fountain noted that part of the proposed cost shown include land acquisition and inquired on the type of land acquisition. Mr. Woyden discussed the work needed to be done to reconnect the system.

Mrs. Fountain questioned if the NBCJMA goes with the MBR system, would any additional land be needed at the existing site. Mr. Woyden advised that at the 2.5 MGD, it is believed that the new plant would be able to fit in the same footprint as the existing plant. He also noted that there is more land available in that area in the plant needs to grow.

Mrs. Fountain inquired if the NBCJMA goes with another type of facility besides the MBR would there be enough land. Mr. Woyden advised that the Authority has plenty of land to build another type of plant.

Mrs. Fountain questioned of the current 2 MGD of wastewater; how much goes through the Core Creek and Neshaminy interceptors. Mr. Gormley advised that approximately 20% goes through Core Creek.

Mrs. Fountain discussed the projected 2.5 MGD and inquired if the request made by the BCWSA to complete a forty (40) year projection was ever completed. Mr. Gormley advised that was not completed and explained why.

Mrs. Fountain inquired if the current zoning could handle the projected 2.5 MGD. Mr. Gormley and Mr. Woyden advised that the 2.5 MGD is based on the current zoning and does include the archdiocese property.

Mrs. Fountain inquired on the Borough’s Act 537 plan. Mr. Woyden advised that the

Borough’s Act 537 plan has not been approved; it is still in the review process.

Mrs. Fountain questioned why this proposal was not included in the Borough’s Act 537 plan. Mr. Woyden advised that it was not an idea when the plan was written and that the Borough’s plan was written approximately six (6) months ago.

Mr. King commented on the Borough needing a new Act 537 plan; which the NBCJMA has agreed to pay for.

Chairman Gallagher discussed the next steps in the process being as follows. First, the Borough would have to vote to reopen their Act 537 plan. The Township would have to vote on an Act 537 plan. That would be approximately a year and a half before having approved plans and making a decision on the proposed treatment facility.

Mr. Ferguson commented on the NBCJMA’s case with the BCWSA and inquired on how the outcome could affect the treatment plant being proposed. Mr. Johnson advised that he couldn’t answer that question at this time.

Mr. Ferguson commented on the Township going forward, the NBCJMA receiving a favorable or unfavorable outcome of case and the possibility of the NBCJMA buying out the contract with BCWSA. Mr. Johnson reported that he should know the outcome in two (2) weeks.

Chairman Gallagher requested documents to be forwarded to Mr. Ferguson and Mrs. Fountain.

Mr. Johnson noted that he is looking forward to further discussions, once receiving an outcome. He also thanked his board, and representatives from the Township and Borough for their involvement.

Mr. Fidler questioned if the MBR wastewater could be sold back to Newtown Artesian Water. Mr. Woyden discussed how the current wastewater is discharged and noted that if the proposed plant is built that the wastewater would discharge into the Neshaminy Creek. There was discussion regarding the possibility of pumping the water into the aquifers.

Mr. Johnson advised on Mr. Gormley service to the community and wanted to note what an asset Mr. Gormley is to the NBCJMA, Township and Borough.

The Supervisors thanked the representatives from the NBCJMA for their time.

Old Business

None.

New Business

None.

Other Business

None.

Adjournment

Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 10:05 P.M.

 

 

Respectfully Submitted:
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary

 

Attest:

Joseph S. Czajkowski, Township Manager


Mike Gallagher, Chairman

Matthew Benchener, Vice-Chairman

Ryan W. Gallagher, Esq., Secretary/Treasurer

Philip Calabro, Member

Robert Ciervo, Member