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October 3, 2022

9/23/2022 11:55:00 AM
CLJSTC continues to fine tune Veolia contract language

Well into the privatization of the publicly-owned sewer assets, that serve the south end of Chisago County, there are still questions about cost sharing and responsibilities. The Chisago Lakes Joint Sewage Treatment Commissioners met this week, with Lisa Iverson absent,  and discussed a few lingering issues.

The contract turning commission operations over to  Veolia needs to be amended to better define who gets paid for what.  The most productive use of commission funds also needs to be pursued.

Chisago City Administrator John Pechman said Veolia has been covering costs of after-hours call out situations, and he said this should be an expense paid for by the affected city needing the services.  “It was not the intention of the commission (in contracting with the firm) to have Veolia eat these costs, I don’t think,” Pechman stated.

Veolia is agreeable to having the contract reflect the new approach and move forward from here, it does not need to include retroactive considerations.  New wording will come to the commission for adoption.

The CLJSTC members also heard the organization could be earning better revenue by keeping cash flow (checking account) in the statewide public 4-M Fund.  
Pechman suggested the CLJSTC’s financial advisor be allowed to deposit up to 70 percent of the account into the state fund for a higher interest rate.  The monies remain liquid either way, he stated, but Advisor Cory Boyer would like to see the checking account money making money. Veolia staff don’t wish to have the responsibility of leveraging commission cashflow.  

On motion by Chair Kevin Stenson, the vote was unanimous to shift 70 percent of checking account balance into the 4M Fund and retain 30 percent in an accessible local account for paying the usual daily bills.

Pechman said an “investment policy” also needs to be adopted and he provided a sample of one used by the St Michael-Albertville-Hanover wastewater facility commission.  The policy item will come before the commission again at a later date.

A decades-old decision to put the SouthCenter Lake Sanitary Sewer District under the county umbrella is being given another look.  According to the insurance provider to the commission the policy can not cover losses involving non-commission owned equipment.  Marlys Dunne explained the county took a deep analysis and went through all its files and the county attorney concluded the county does NOT own the equipment servicing the district. The county was originally involved because something that is not a city can’t be its own “taxing district.”  Dunne, who is on the County Board, said there were “assumptions” made for many years leading to the county being responsible for this district but the issue has been clarified and it is time to “move forward.”  The South Center Sanitary District needs to get its own insurance.

Tom Holt, representing the area, advised the CLJSTC members the district has always been billed for its premium and hasn’t been getting anything for free.

Chair Stenson, though, said all the members must be treated equally and the sanitary district has enjoyed reduced costs, etc being part of the commission’s huge policy.  Others, even cities, who own their unique equipment haven’t gotten rolled into the CLJSTC insurance policy.
Commission member Bob Gustafson argued the district can’t tax itself so it was created as part of the county commission share of the wastewater system budget, he added, “If they aren’t a city, they are under the county, that’s how it works.”

Dunne responded that may have been what happened earlier but it “doesn’t matter” and the structure of the insurance needs to be revised.  The League of MN Cities policy won’t insure equipment that doesn’t belong to a city.  She said the county is assisting in helping find a new insurance quote. The CLJSTC insurance renewal is due  November.

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