Only one thing for sure–we need more money…………..

Wheres the money

At the last City Council meeting, Public Utilities Director Andrew Neff seemed confused about why the multi-million dollar meter replacement program has not resulted in more revenue (see video).

The answer provided by our highly-paid consultants, Burton & Associates is lame at best:

Subject: RE: Impact of Meter Replacement Program
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 2015 17:28:34 -0400
From: Ted Noftall <>
To: ‘Harden, David’ <>
CC: Bob Ford <>,, Drew Bastian <>, Mayor Green <>, Scott Stiltner <>

If you have any data to  substantiate  Burton & Associates  conclusions  on the meter replace program  you need to make it available.
If the  numbers you are repeating  and the slide presentation on Tuesday evening only relate to potable water,    And  do not include reclaimed water consumption recordings ( as Burton stated  was the case )  then what is the  significance of the difference in rain fall between years,   AND HOW  has  that significance been  quantified ?
Absent  any data and none has been produced to date   it sounds to me that no one  has a solid analysis regarding the meter replacement program,      AND  all you and Burton are offering is conjecture designed to paper over expenditures that the former Utilities Director warned would prove to be  largely a waste of money.     Conjecture irrespective of what you pay for it,   is  conjecture  none the less Mr. Manager.
Public Utilities director Andy Neff was both honest and correct in expressing his open confusion as to  the lack of positive revenue stream improvement following the multi millions that have been spent to date on the meter replacement program when he  stated at Tuesday’s meeting    ” we are not seeing a revenue stream reflective in the amount of meters replaced,  and what is ….  Frankly what is going on with that ? ”        
Taxpayers deserve either an  honest comprehensive  analysis of the results  achieved from the  meter replacement expenditures,  OR  AN   honest explanation as to why the requisite data was not compiled by your senior staff to facilitate  such an analysis.
To paraphrase  Mr. Neff.   What is going on here Manager Harden  ??
Ted Noftall
Candidate for Mayor
City of Port Orange -2016
From: Harden, David []
Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2015 10:02 AM
To: Noftall, Ted
Cc: City Council
Subject: Impact of Meter Replacement Program
My understanding of what Burton and Associates’ analysis revealed is as follows:
They looked as the consumption recorded by 10,517 accounts for three months before and after the meters were replaced.
For these 10,517 accounts, the recorded water consumption increased by 11.6%.
After adjustments for seasonality, elasticity of demand and other variables they estimated the annual gain in recorded water consumption at 8.1%.
The City’s actual experience, comparing water consumption for FY 2012 with FY 2014 has been a 0.9% decrease in water consumption.
Burton and Associates concluded that the benefits of the meter change out program have been offset by reductions in use “due to other demand drivers”. (i.e. in FY 2012 we received 41.68 inches of rainfall.  In FY 2014 we received 58.38 inches)
In the presentation last evening Mr. Burnham stated that without the meter replacement program the City probably would have experienced a 7% decrease in water sales.

10 thoughts on “Only one thing for sure–we need more money…………..

  • August 3, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    I still continue to suggest that they track and graph the difference between billed gallons and gallons pumped out of the plant. I suggested that prior to the start of the meter replacement program so that we could get an estimate of the losses and track the progress. That idea was discarded by Kisela and Yarborough and no one on council thought enough of the idea to ask for a simple data collection that could be thrown on an excel spreadsheet and graphed in a few minutes.
    It really is basic quality improvement process track simple performance indicators before and after a change to verify results. I have been told, we cannot track that because the billing cycles are different, the plant meters need replacement all are irrelevant to keep a running measure over a lengthy period to see if the gap is closing or not. It would be nice to hear from some POEs as to why every excuse and most recently no reply at all has been given.
    While it does make some sense that some of the zero reads were low usage in the first place I do not buy the whole deal.
    We are over 3 if not 4 months into the new rate structure and still cannot get a read on net revenue change. That is another disturbing problem that council is ignoring, even while listening to another consultant that is suggesting more rate increases. All before we have an inventory and assessment of the infrastructure.
    I recall reading the Sensus sales materials on the reading system we should be able to do much better than to have a monthly appearance at council by someone with a runaway meter or leak that the reading system should be able to alert them about and stop the water.
    The last thing. I think I will scream the next time a consultant or staff tries to justify raising taxes or rates by showing that OUR city is lower than others. The other cities should be shamed for costing so much.
    Good Night,
    Newton White

    • August 4, 2015 at 3:50 am

      Good points as always Newton. They will be ignored by the council and management as always. All the consultents are just a way to justify rate increases and tax increases which is why the POEs are quiet. They get there raises and bennies by taxes on people with real jobs.

    • August 4, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      I think you are correct Newton. It looks to me that all over the nation today, water issues, costs and bills are the new governmental agencies candy store. After reading some of the google articles on water meters, I don’t think we should absolutely trust any water meter. There are so many problems with water meters. And in financial budgets, costs of water etc. seems to be the best way to juggle some money around in government agencies. Always on the top of my list for watching your government in action was construction and real estate. Now I add water service to the list. The candy store is open to consultants, audits, and even to transfer a drainage plot of land into the real estate of a city park.

    • August 7, 2015 at 11:54 am

      The city has always tracked the difference between billed gallons and gallons produced at the plant. The plant meters are calibrated on a regular basis that exceed the legal requirements. There is water loss in the water distribution system due to leaky pipes and valves, water used in system flushing and testing and flushing fire hydrants etc. All water distribution systems everywhere lose water. The difference or water loss is a useful indicator of various possible problems. It can’t be used only to tell if customer meters are faulty.
      I would look at individual accounts comparisons. Look at proper installation of large meters. The large meters should be tested under the proper operating conditions and verified as accurate. You can lose a fair amount of revenue with inaccurate large meters. Rainfall amounts do factor into water consumption but there is no exact formula to quantify how it effects consumption. I suspect that there would have to be some conjecture involved to produce answers and numbers. You could use historical rainfall data and come up with averages to use to formulate the results of meter replacement. You will never get better than good, close ballpark figures
      As far as rate increases go the city did not have sufficient data from doing assessments of the underground utilities systems to do a rate increase or put a number to it. How rehab, replacement and maintenance of our underground systems was figured into it was purely guesswork. The plants and facilities are assessed yearly as part of the budget process and reflected in the in the operating and capital budgets.
      I have what I consider some good ideas to outline a program to assess our underground systems. I have posted on this and other subjects in city operations and programs in the past in some detail. No more beating a dead horse.

      • August 7, 2015 at 3:44 pm

        Mr. Woodman, your assessment of water meter issues seems logical to me. I would guess when there is a city function which is hard to be accurate about there is room for “fooling around manipulation”. Probably I should change my attitude about water service costs and perhaps in this area of concern Mr. Kisela may have been correct when he said “this is a complicated issue”.
        I do confess that I do not remember the details you have provided to beat this dead horse issue, but I would not be surprised that Ted Noftall remembers them and will bring them up again during his run for City Council. I wonder if some day, some city official will come up with an idea that matches your advice given some time when he can claim the details as being his/her own. probably you Mr. Woodman and I could relate similar circumstances from our previous work experiences. I appreciate all your details and to me they all add up to the fact that our city management and councilmen should be doing better. Bob Ford is only one person on the city council, and looking at this city institution it is going to take more than one person to get everyone on the ball, and possibly maybe even more than prayers before city council meetings.

        • August 8, 2015 at 12:50 pm

          Hank I haven’t posted much on this site in the past year due to serious health problems that almost killed me. You would have to look back a year or two to see some of the posts I was referring to. I don’t have the passion for this like I used to have. I worked in the utilities field for 41 years and there’s not much that I haven’t seen or experienced in the business. I look at many of the problems with utilities and the city in general and know that they can be fixed with hard work, commitment and good management. There are just a few people left in utilities with one foot out the door that have the ability and knowledge to set in place these fixes but they are not properly recognized and utilized by management. I have to stop here I’m starting to get fired up.

          • August 8, 2015 at 6:04 pm

            Sorry to hear you have been ill and I hope you are well on the way to a full recovery. Glad you could get back to us. Although I have not had any real serious illness, I run hot and cold about spending time posting and keeping up with Port Orange City Government News. Twice I swore off reporting Port Orange City Politiical News but both times returned after I cooled off. I recognize the hatred and resentment towards the national political situation by some citizens. I won’t compate Ted Noftall to Donald Trump, but the citizens’ reaction to Trump I hope will be similarly forthcoming during Noftall’s campaign for the city council.
            You have provided many good details which I think have led some of our better citizens to probe and explore. I appreciate it.
            The failure of civil service administrations not to reward its good workers is not only due to lack of inspection and control to find out who the good workers are but at times due to political connections and I dare say political baggage. I won’t bother posting what I have seen in New York State Civil Service except two instances. I was asked on an oral interview civil service test by a panal of people, how I would feel if I were in the position of Director of Law Enforcement for the New York State Park Police Departments, if a local General Manager of a Park Commission wanted to promote the number 3 person on a civil service list rather than the number 1 person on the list. In New York State it use to be that the appointing official for a promotion could pick any one out of the top three. I answered the question poorly, and deservedly was not appointed to the position. In my position as Captain, executive officer of the L.I.State Parkway Police, I witnessed a civil service list for promotion be manipulated in order to reach the number 7 person on the civil service promational list.
            I perhaps think you and I have had some similar experiences in administration not reaching out to the most qualified before them. My experiences have shaped my perceptions of governmental agencies, and influence my judgements of local Port Orange Politics and City Administration.
            But we manage to live with it, and survive. Best to you
            sincerely – hank

      • August 8, 2015 at 3:21 am

        R. Woodman–FYI Andy Neff told me back in March that they were going to begin testing 118 large beachside meters with their test meter and properly reinstalling those that read inaccurate. Will try to find out how the project is progressing. The meters I can see easily along A1A still seem to be installed improperly–filter, but no straight pipe before the meter.

  • August 8, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    I understand all you noted about use in processing, flushing etc. I did not go to detail that known uses and losses should be accounted for. I am suggesting that the two amounts should move closer together as aged, broken and zero read meters are replaced. Over a long length of time I would expect results to smooth, after a couple years you could plot seasonal resident surges and plot rainfall as a third line in the graph to see how it affects usage. Just saying.
    It is interesting that you say the city has always tracked this difference. It makes a curious person wonder why 3 generations of management has not produced these simple graphs, or given out the data when asked???

    • August 10, 2015 at 11:14 am

      The water plant tracks the flow leaving the plant. Finance Dept. tracks billed water usage. The water plant tracks rainfall at the plant which isn’t going to be representative of the entire area of the city. I don’t know who tracks seasonal fluctuations of our residents and visitors. I have personally seen the number comparisons for water produced versus billed for water on many, many occasions over the years. Not as graphs just numbers. I’m sure with our highly advanced accounting software, LOL and given how forthcoming the city is in response to information requests someone could sit down and manually plot out the graphs in say 6 to 8 months. I remember before I left the city that our water distribution system loses were by industry standards within the acceptable range. What we don’t know is if we are skating on thin ice as far as exceeding the industry standard or having serious unanticipated failures that we haven’t planned or budgeted for.


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