Tuesday, March 24, 2009

09/10 budget - sewers, public properties & the pool

Tonight's budget meeting began with the Water Pollution Control Department - the sewers. The Wastewater Superintendent, Dennis Dievert, does a fantastic job IMO. He's an engineer, but speaks english.

Two main points he raised:

1) Lilac Drive pump station should be completed within a week or so, and

2) this past year he moved from bidding the wastewater treatment plant's methanol contract for one year to one month. Since methanol is energy... and energy prices dropped... he saved significant money there... but one month contracts also offer lower prices. Additionally, he reduced total methanol consumption at the plant.

My main concern with this department was ensuring they had been following up on a conversation I initiated. Thing is, after last summer's capital budget meetings in which I had a bunch of Council members make false claims about my lack of providing them with information about performance contracting, I decided another approach may work better.

If staff could understand performance contracting, then maybe Council members would stop going around making false claims about me?

So I contacted the single largest energy services provider in the country, Johnson Controls (JC). As of last year, they were listed around #70 on the Fortune 500. They know what they're doing.

And then last fall, the $1,000,000 Mixville pump station failed at referendum and Dennis Dievert said the proposed project had a significant energy efficiency component:

So it seemed to me that a performance contract may very well work. And that's when I asked JC to contact town staff to begin explaining performance contracting.

Obviously, I've been very clear with the JC rep that if the Town begins seriously considering performance contracting, everything goes out to bid, etc. I'm just sick and tired of listening to the willfully deceptive comments of Council members about their supposed-ignorance of performance contracting.

Regardless, the ball is now in the court of town staff. They agreed to complete a form and return it to JC. Then JC will provide some feedback. Perhaps we can engage in a townwide performance contract as an alternative to spending $150,000 on a building assessment consultant?

Hopefully something can happen here without too much more kicking and screaming from the majority. I'm not quite sure how else they intend find a million bucks to rebuild the Mixville Pump Station.

The second budget discussed was public properties. It's late and I'm not going to get into it. But I did ask about the engineering impact on the pool if the bubble does not go up next fall. I didn't expect a response. I just asked because I'm not voting for the pool budget and I'm uncertain if there will be five votes in favor of the pool budget. As well, I voiced my frustration over the foot dragging that's occurred since last February when I began strongly advocating for an alternative to the bubble. Keep in mind... a permanent structure could have been "shovel-ready." And with an energy-efficiency component, it most likely would have been included in the stimulus package. And we could be well on our way to a permanent solution to the pool. But we're not.

Tim White


Anonymous said...

hmmm performance contracts...why dont we investigate our own departments first and see how much of their work we could put out to bid as well. The town departments need to adopt a business attitude instead of the wealthy charity attitude they have now. It should not be a right to work for this town year in and year out. Departments in this town especially the town works department are based on a good old boys network. I wish for once the town would put out a competitive bid for some of the town works projects. i.e sidewalks by the high school and sweet claudes, regrading and paving of peck lane by jarvis, (is that even done yet, how are the trench drains in the poor peoples front yards doing?), and of course the famous fill in the pot hole 2 inches too high so we can fly by in the plow truck to rip it up trick. The problem with this town is departments dont have to make money like a business do which many might think is a good thing however when a company doesnt have to worry about profit and losing there jobs at the same time, then they are just gonna take there sweet old time.

Anonymous said...

Here is another suggestion for cutting out the fat in this town. Tim I would recommend you look in to the following. Why does the public works have to drive around with cold patch to fix pot holes in a massive plow truck, wouldnt a simple pickup do the trick, is it because they have there names lettered below there respective windows like they are the ones who own the truck. Heres another recommendation since they fix pot holes most days of the week you would think they would get good at it...why not consider ripping out a little more material, make a good base, put in the patch, and use a vibratory compactor to pack it in.

Here is another suggestion, investigate why it is neccesary to drive brush 1 to go pick up pizzas at pops? Didnt know if there was a brush fire in the kitchen.

Here is another suggestion. Figure out how much more gas the police explorers use versus the cruisers.

And another why are there so many vice principals, secretaries, support staff, copy ladies, study hall monitors etc.

tim white said...

Please... run for Council! I'd love to have someone ask such questions... eventually the Chair will no longer be able to simply say "it's late" or "I think it's bad precedent to just ask questions at a meeting." (Ok... I don't recall that... but I've heard statements that are pretty close.)

Anonymous said...

Lets hope that at the end of this term, the current chairman will be gone and you can be the chairman, Tim.

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

Let me offer some insite into some of the 10:57 comments.

Cold patch is just that, a patch. It is applied during the winter to fill in pot holes. It is piled a little higher than the hole so that cars driving over it can push it into the holes and cracks below. Unfortunatly, everyone tries to avoid the cold patch, so it gets ripped out when they plow. They dont make a proper repair because it is time consuming (and takes longer in the winter due to frozen ground and would break apart with frost heaves and thawing) Would be a total waste of money.
As far what truck they use, I believe the public works only has 1 small mason dump. So to fix as many roads at one time, larger trucks need to be used. Also to be considered is weight. The mason dump cannot hold as much weight as the larger trucks. It has nothing to do with names on the door.

As far as taking Brush 1 to get pizza, Pops is a quarter mile from the fire house. There is virtually no fuel use in that trip. Consider giving the volunteers a break.. they save you the most money each year and you dont even realize it. We have over 100 men and women that give their own time to protect the town from fire, hazardous materials incidents, car accidents etc... If one of these unpaid workers wants to go get a pizza, let him. 1/2 a gallon of diesel is still cheaper than the salary of a paid firefighter.

The Expeditions do use more fuel than the Crown Victorias. But the town purchased them because the police had limited winter transportation. 1 Expedition replaced the over loaded Explorer that the traffic division had and the other replaced the shift commanders car. In reality, we didnt add any vehicles to the fleet, just replaced them with a different style.

Anonymous said...

let me offer some insight on insite. Could it be that by the 90's CHS gave up teaching about and its graduates eliminated the copious use of dictionaries?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

see rbj you look at a simple trip to pops as a non issue and the use of fire vehicles including the excursion (7mpg) as a earned right because they volunteer. One of the problems with this town is too many members of town government and town departments feel a sense of entitlement. In order to cut this budget we need to change the mind set and historical legacy of this town from a sense of entitlement to a sense of obligation. Warren Buffet puts it best when he talks of wants and needs. This town wants a lot of things but we need to start considering what this town needs.

Anonymous said...

we can solve all budget problems and hire a professional fire department. then we will not have the pool or the town dump trucks or the education budget to worry about.

Anonymous said...

If we outlawed the pizza joints we would save huge amounts of dollars and rid the world of bad food.

Robert DeVylder Jr. said...

We could outlaw people living in Cheshire. No residents, no services, no expenses, no budget, no taxes, no jobs, no bitching etc.