Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner
The June 2 meeting of Gardner’s Utility Advisory Commission was very short. There were not enough members present to constitute a quorum.
Mark Baldwin, chairman, and Ryan Learned, member, were in attendance. The rest of the five member commission was absent.
Baldwin, delayed opening the official meeting until about 7:10 p.m. and then immediately made a motion to adjourn due to lack of quorum, which was seconded by Learned and passed with a 2-0 vote, and the meeting adjourned at about 7:11 p.m.
The Utility Advisory Commission is scheduled to meet on the first Thursday each month at 7 p.m. in the Gardner City Hall Council chambers. Members of the UAC are: Baldwin, Learned, Lance Boyd, Duane Waldeman and Clint Barney.
This makes six of the last 13 meetings that have been cancelled. UAC meetings were cancelled in April, August and October of 2015, and March and May of 2016.
In May, Gonzalo Garcia, utilities director, said only one of those five meetings had been cancelled due to lack of a quorum but rather because of lack of critical items to put on the agenda.
City staff had planned to present information on two new business items to the board at the June 2 meeting.
Staff had intended to advise passing along a recommendation to city council to purchase a Meter Site Analyzer. The meter tester is used to verify meter accuracy for commercial and residential customers. The lower of two bids was $57,933.75. The 2016 electric budget included $75,000 for a new meter tester.
Staff also had planned to consider recommending council award an engineering service contract for the replacement of transmission line relays from electrical substation #1 to substation #2. Three bids had been received for this project, the lowest being $37,997 from Kiewit Engineering & Design Co.
The city has worked with Kiewet before and was pleased with the results.
Updates on electric, water and wastewater projects was the agenda’s discussion item.
None of the above items were discussed or presented. The projects may have to wait a month for the next UAC meeting or a special meeting could be called.
The UAC was established to provide input to minimize utilities outages, recommend utility projects to be considered by the city council, act as source of information regarding past practices taken by Gardner Energy, bring utility related issues voiced by Gardner residents, suggest items for the utilities director to investigate or change,  recommend best utility practices to improve our services.
The UAC was formed in December, 2014, and replaced the Electric Utility Advisory Board to provide guidance and recommendations for all city utilities to the Gardner City Council.
Prior to that, Gardner ‘s EUB functioned as an independent board, and in 2012 members of the city’s BPU Exploratory recommended a board – similar to the then-independent Electric Utility Board – oversee electric, water and wastewater. However, it was determined by legal counsel that the EUB had been established through a flawed ordinance.