PEPPERELL -- Water and Sewer Superintendent Laurie Stevens has continued her deep dive into her department's billing system and updated the Board of Public Works on several outstanding issues.
"The more we're learning about the software -- digging into it -- double-checking, back-checking, proofing rates, we're finding a few anomalies here and there," said DPW Director Kenneth Kalinowski.
"When we discover an issue, we try to solve it as quickly as possible, but, however, we don't want to institute a solution that creates a worse problem than it seems," said Stevens.
"We try to work with our vendor and come up with the best possible solution," she said.
One issue noted by Stevens was a lack of consistency between commercial tiers and residential tiers.
"We don't make a distinction as to the purpose of the water use. So this has just been an error in applying the correct tiers," said Commissioner Greg Rice, who noted that commercial users have not been pushed into higher tiers when they should have.
Another problem cited was three-family and up semi-annual billing where there is one meter for multiple units. The minimum billing for each unit is not handled by the billing system, keeping them in lower billing tiers. With one meter, the minimum tier is at a higher usage, thus reducing the revenue from the dwelling.
"There's a little bit of revenue that's lost," said Commissioner Paul Brinkman.
"You can't create one class and treat them better than the guy next door," he said.
The board also received a draft of a water shut-off policy, including an implementation timeline for the various steps leading to eventual termination of service.
"We will continue to work with all the impacted Town departments, such as primarily the Board of Health to implement the policy in the most effective and efficient manner," said Kalinowski.
The board is expected to discuss the proposed policy in detail at a future meeting.
"All we're really asking for is for people to pays their bills so we can stay in business," said Kalinowski.
"It's food for thought. I think it's a good draft policy," he said.
Kalinowski provided an update on the Highway Department's status following the large storm that dumped 26 inches on Pepperell. Cost of snow removal totaled approximately $30,000 for fuel, material and labor.
"We're in good shape," said Kalinowski.
The town also received two bids for a brush chipper, funding for which was authorized at the last Town Meeting. The low bid of $42,231.70 came from MB Tractor out of Tilton, N.H.
Kalinowski also reminded the board that the transfer station employees continue to face hazards over the improper disposal of hypodermic needles at the facility. Brochures will be made available at the transfer station in an effort to educate the public. The Board of Health provides containers for needle disposal at a cost of $5 for a one-quart container. Those containers must be transported to Ayer by the purchaser.
The board approved water and sewer abatement requests in the amounts of $75 for 86 Lowell Road, $189.30 for 101 Lowell Road, $189.30 for 117 Lowell Road, and $8.69 for 37 Nashua Road.