CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The Briggsville Water District is making progress in re-establishing controls over the public water company that serves nearly 200 people in the River Road area.
The district had been without a functioning commission for years. The Select Board had initially agreed to become the water commissioners, but a new board last year raised questions about the legality of the takeover.
In April, a handful of district members reconstituted the board of water commissioners, which will have to oversee a budget, hire an operator and fulfill the decrees handed down by the Department of Environmental Protection.
"We need to establish the bids, the work that needs to be done to satisfy DEP," said Commissioner Clebe Scott at last Wednesday's meeting.
Chairman Carl McKinney said he was told that about $25,000 in grant funding should be available to demolish the property at 494 River Road and that he wanted to get the request for proposals for evaluated the hazardous materials be put on the next agenda. He didn't think there was asbestos inside but there is low-fiber in the siding.
Commissioner Deborah Lapine said she'd gotten three difference prices on the evaluation from local companies, ranging from $650 to $1,500.
The 1880 house will be demolished to provide space for a water tank that would provide two days of water for the district. The property was purchased in June for $26,555 from PNC Bank.
A water reserve had been part of the consent decree agreed to with the DEP to bring the water district up to current standards. The state's preference had been for a well, Scott and McKinney said, but was considered too costly after speaking with a local well driller.
"It'd be no guarantee of any water, it would be north of $200,000 and there was no guarantee that it wouldn't impact the current water supply," McKinney said. "It just was very fortuitous that this particular property adjacent to and in the zone one area around the wellhead came available."
He said the DEP has agreed to a 5,000 to 10,000 gallon reserve tank on the property that could service the district for four to eight days if the spring went dry or another problem occurred.
McKinney said only one bid came in for an emergency generator that was "way too much" and no bids were recieved for requests for a master meter.
"So that frees us up to basically to solicit individuals," he said "So that's the next step we got and that's going to be paid for with grant."
The water district also approved unanimously the appointment of Beverly Cooper as its accountant. Cooper has worked in municipal accounting and finance for many years and is currently treasurer/tax collector for the city of North Adams.
"I think she's going to have more hours initially but I think it will eventually slow down, but a couple of things is we need some paperwork filed with the state," McKinney said. "And there's some data that I'd like to get out of that so that we can actually establish a budget. So what I was thinking if we kept it at something to the effect of $3,000 a year not to exceed, that should be OK."
Once Cooper is comfortable with the procedures for the district, he said he'd like to get two years of detailed expenses and revenues to begin developing a budget for fiscal 2021.
"I think that we should have an annual meeting of the membership and then approve the budget, similarly to what we go through with the town process and the school process," McKinney said. "And also at that annual meeting, I think that we should probably contemplate some bylaws that we might want to enact, like, filling their swimming pool and establishing a fine structure. I think that's incredibly important."
Commissioner Mary Giron said she had talked to the town's treasurer about the account and had been told there was quite a bit of money that had come in so the treasurer had made a deposit for them. She said the treasurer has also been working on the water district's grant to ensure the paperwork was getting in on time.
"She asked if she could call Cooper and talk to her about setting up," she said. "And I told her she had not been officially hired yet. But if she wanted to talk to her about she could."
The committee members also worried that having future billing and payments going to a home address would cause problems down the line. McKinney said he didn't want bills "going all over God's creation" and had spoken with Select Board Chairman Ronald Boucher about having a box at Town Hall.
"Bev Cooper is our accountant for now and, hopefully, for a good long time, but what will happen if we change?" he said. "Then the next thing you know, it's going to someone else's and I think consistency, we should have that."
The commission also discussed setting up a capital budget to begin repairs and upgrades and setting up an alert or information system to apprise district members of water problems, meetings and other issues.
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