By Bill Short
The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen has approved an agreement with a company to conduct a detailed engineering evaluation of the city’s buildings and water system.
Board members took the action during a Dec. 23, 2014 special called meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Thomas McGhee and seconded by Alderman Chris Ford. The motion was passed by a 4-1 vote, with Alderman Mike Caruthers dissenting. Aldermen Frankie Dakin and Hank Hawkins were absent.
At no cost to Millington, Energy Systems Group of Evansville, Ind., has performed a “preliminary” evaluation of the city’s water system and buildings with related utility costs. The company has identified potential “operational efficiencies” and energy savings, as well as “more accurate metering” of water production and consumption, which can be implemented in a manner that is “budget-neutral” to the city.
The “detailed” evaluation will be conducted to “validate” the preliminary findings and identify specific recommendations in each area.
ESG will evaluate the water system for a cost of up to $35,000 and the building systems for an amount not to exceed $20,000.
Millington will not incur any “current-year cost” for the evaluation if it implements the recommended findings, or if the evaluation does not produce the required savings to fund the level of projects identified in the agreement. Interim City Manager Chris Dorsey is authorized to execute the agreement on behalf of the city. Josh McNeil, an ESG account executive, noted during the board’s Dec. 8, 2014 regular monthly meeting that it had “engaged” the company to begin an analysis of the city’s buildings and water system to identify “inefficiencies” and determine how to make infrastructure improvements.
He said conversations with “various stakeholders” throughout the city yielded three key points:
(1) enhance the community;
(2) mitigate risk to the city; and
(3) demonstrate fiscal responsibility by making the best use of taxpayers’ dollars.
While noting that no new tax or rate increase will be imposed, McNeil said the “whole purpose” of the program is that it is “self-funded” through money the city is already spending.
Because upgrades and lower operating costs can be self-funding, he said the resulting savings will be “measured, verified and guaranteed.”
ESG will assume all the risk through the engineering and project management. And it will be obligated to “reimburse” the city for any “shortfalls” that result from the guarantee, which remains in place throughout the length of the term. McNeil said improved services, facilities and reliability of the buildings and water system will lead to the residents’ satisfaction.
He noted that the program’s objectives are to help fund the replacement of city assets that are “at or past their useful life,” as well as to identify and reduce “unaccounted-for” water.
McNeil said ESG will “guarantee, support and celebrate” Millington’s efforts to attract new businesses and residents.
“The schools are growing, because there are more students,” he noted. “This will be a way for you to improve those facilities to attract those incoming residents, and enhance livability for your existing residents as well.”
McNeil said he has gone through all the facilities, taken several photos and done a preliminary analysis of each one.
“A lot of your mechanical systems are beyond their useful life,” he noted. “The majority of your lighting is inefficient. Most of your meters are very old and are only replaced as they fail. And you also have un-calibrated master meters.”
Currently, McNeil said, Millington’s issue with “unaccounted-for” water comes from three places:
(2) inaccuracy of the meters; and
(3) the billing system.
He noted that going through this program will allow ESG to examine all three phases of that.
“You’re not going to be able to eliminate all the leaks,” he acknowledged. “But the billing system and accuracy of the meters can certainly be addressed.”
He said the billing system can also help address the leaks, because they can be found through the automated technology. Based on his preliminary evaluation and analysis of three years of utility data, McNeil said he believes ESG can save Millington $80,000 a year on the “building” side and increase water system efficiency by slightly more than $160,000.
“Those are currently conservative estimates,” he acknowledged. “We would have to go further with the details to get those numbers exactly nailed down.”
He also noted that those numbers do not take into account the potential savings with the water and wastewater treatment plants and street lighting to LED, which ESG considers “real possibilities.”
“Street lighting is a big cost for your city, as well as a lot of others,” he said. “There’s a lot of great technology covering street lights that are really efficient and brighter.”
Because a number of plans have been proposed for the USA Stadium complex, McNeil said ESG has also been asked to investigate ball field lighting additions.
“We will have the engineers and lighting experts come out here to show you numbers,” he said. “So, you can decide if that’s something you would like to move forward with.”
McNeil said ESG will work to help Millington obtain every grant available through the state and federal government. He noted that the company plans to complete all the analysis in time to apply for a $250,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development by the middle of this month.