January 19, 2021 - Finance Committee meeting - 60 AMP Services & V-Box

Council of the Whole
Finance Committee
January 19, 2020
6:30 P.M.
Chuck Hawk, Mayor
Tom Hilliard, Council Member                    Andrew Hess, Council Member                 
Brett Long, Council Member                       Sydney Radich, Council Member              
Mike Schwab, Council Member                 
Kris King, Clerk-Treasurer                             Michael Miller, Village Administrator       
These minutes include a compilation of emails and conversation of this evening to help the reader better understand.
Chairman Mike Schwab presented an agenda that was given to Council Members at an earlier time to review.  The agenda was as follows:
Finance Committee Meeting Agenda
          (Council is urged to ask questions during and after each presentation)
A.            PROPOSAL: An Upgrade of Brewster Electric customers with 60 Amp electric services
  • How many residential houses in Brewster are believed to have 60-amp electric systems?
How is this number determined?
VA Miller stated there are 20 houses with 60-amp services.  Two of them may be in the process of being upgraded by realtors.  A house’s value is considered to be $10,000 les with a 60-amp service.  We know this because our employees read the meters.
  • Why ask customer to upgrade?
Is a 60-amp residential service considered undersized to meet the electric demands of the average home?
Is a 60-amp service possibly unsafe and could lead to problems or hazards for the customer?
Is there the potential for a 60-amp system to affect the Village grid or pose a hazard to Village electric linemen?
A 60 AMP meter (and meter base) doesn’t carry enough power to support more modern electric loads. Most houses have a breaker panel that is 100 AMPS or more, even many where the meter (and meter base) wasn’t upgraded at the time (still have a 60 AMP meter). So, a resident could be pulling in excess of the 60 AMP rated load of the meter and wiring through their breaker panel, causing it to overheat and potentially start a fire. The basic safety criteria is that a breaker panel should not be able to carry more load (electricity) than the meter that brings the electricity to the panel.
  • What residential household amperage is required by the Village Electric Regulations?
This is not currently addressed in the Village’s Electric Regulations.
  • What is the Village’s legal obligation in this matter?
This would be a question for the solicitor.  Councilman Schwab will ask the Solicitor at the nest meeting.
  • What measures can the Village legally take to request or require a residential service be upgraded by the customer?
VA Miller stated that at this point, letters will be sent out to give the residents a heads-up.
  • Do we have a cost estimate for an electrician to upgrade from 60-amp?
VA Miller stated that it can cost several hundred to several thousand.
  • It has been suggested that Village Council provide a program that would assist the owner of a residence with 60-amp electric system make the needed upgrades.   Is such an approach legal and financially viable?
There has been discussion on setting up a 5-year/no interest loan that can be collected on the monthly utility bill.
  • What is the Village’s liability for the upgrades?
VA Miller stated the Village should not be responsible for the contractor’s work but may want to strengthen the language in the regulations.
B.            PROPOSAL: The purchase of a V-box Salt Spreader by the Street Department
  • Information provided by the VA in his December 7, 2020 VA Report:
Purchase price of a V-box from Swenson               = $ 18,415.00                     
Purchase price of a storage stand for the V-box   = $    6,026.00 (stainless steel legs)
                                                                                Total Cost    = $ 24,441.00
  • Funding sources suggested by the VA:   
State Highway Fund        = $   21,336.28    (01/02/2021 balance)
Street Equipment Fund = $   72,991.61    (01/02/2021 balance)
  • What benefits will a V-box spreader provide over the current tailgate spreader ?
  • With a V-box spreader, we can use our brine to reduce our use of salt up to 30%. We spent $14,598.54 on road salt in 2020. Projected savings per year $4,380. Savings will “pay” for V-Box in 5.6 years.
  • With a V-box spreader, we can use our brine to make the salt more effective – it acts faster to melt snow/ice.
  • Safety - With a tailgate spreader, in order to get the salt to the tailgate you must continuously raise the bed, making the vehicle less stable and potentially creating a situation if overhead lines are caught.
  • How long will it take to install a v-box spreader vs. a tailgate spreader?
  • Slightly faster for V-Box versus tailgate
  • How much salt does a v-box spreader hold vs. a tailgate spreader?
    • Depends, but the model being recommended holds approximately the same amount of salt PLUS includes brine tanks.

  • How much salt will the Village save each year using a v-box and how does this translate into as a cost savings?
    • With a V-box spreader, we can use our brine to reduce our use of salt up to 30%. We spent $14,598.54 on road salt in 2020. Projected savings per year $4,380. Savings will “pay” for V-Box in 5.6 years.
    • We have a brine maker and have bee using it to pretreat the roads.  Saddle tanks on the truck would help to treat the roads better, reduce salt, and keep the salt on the road.
    • Councilman Hilliard asked if have been purchasing the brine.  VA Miller stated we are mixing our own.  It is what we have been using for pretreating and light snow.  We will still use it for hills and curves.  This purchase is the next step.  We mix 500 gallons of brine at a time .  we could put 175-gallons on each side of the truck.  The brine can be mixed with beet juice and it will work in lower temperatures.  It will pay for itself in 5-1/2 years.  ODOT and the County use it.  There is a 90-day lead time for the purchase.
    • Mayor Hawk stated it is a good product and is efficient.  The State offered to help with anything the Village needs.
    • Councilman Schwab asked if Supt. Patterson was in favor of the purchase.  VA Miller stated he is for it and is working on perfecting the mixture.  Supt. Patterson is using a meter to get the mixture to 23.5%.  He is also in favor of the V-Box purchase.
  • What is timeline for the purchase of a new truck, roller, or similar significant cost item for the Street Department?
  • Still would like front end loader. ODOT just turned in low hour used at $72,000. $30,000 per year is put into fund, so at the end of 2021 IF purchase of V-Box is made we would have total of $81,000 in Street Equipment Account - $51,000 balance plus $30,000 annual contribution.
  • Could the proposed $ 24,441 in funds be better used to help pay for the proposed new street garage?
    • We have funds in the State Highway Account (7.5% or $1,637.63 can be allocated) and Street Equipment Account (balance of $20,197.37) to make the purchase.
The State Highway Account balance is up to $21,336.28 from $19,197.27 since I last brought it to Council. Similarly, the Street Equipment Account balance is up from $65,195.11 to $72,991.61 since I first brought it to Council.
Limited in how much can be used from State Highway. State Highway Account has 7.5% or $1,637.63 can be allocated towards V-Box. Leaves over $19,000 towards new Street building. New Building would have to come in at over $250,000 before we use up the remaining $19,000 using the 7.5% proportion Kris provided.

As far Street Equipment Account, what is proposed leaves a balance of over $51,000, but I have confirmed with Kris that we CANNOT use equipment funds to pay for a building. 

Council Member Schwab stated that he was not opposed to purchasing a v-box but that the $ 20,000+ to be paid for the v-box could possibly be better used right now toward the new garage.  He stated that if Council wanted to be creative, they could in effect use moneys intended for the Street Equipment Fund by suspending three or four $7500 quarterly transfers from General to Street Equipment and use those retained General Fund dollars for the new Street garage".
  1. Council Member Schwab asked about the timeline on the Street Garage.
  • VA Miller stated if depends on when the ordinances are passed.  With three reading and then 30-days, it will be March 8th until we can enter into a contract with Engineering Associates.  Then they will have to put a bid package together.  Bids could then be opened in May or June.  The contract would then be awarded and construction could start in July or August.  VA Miller’s concern is the fact that we have a $250,000 truck coming and we need to have it under roof.  We may have to reroute Street Equipment Funds to help cover the cost of the Street Garage.  Mayor Hawk would like to see this move forward tonight with the legislation passed under emergency.
Meeting adjourned at 6:53pm
Kris King, Clerk-Treasurer