Berlin Council News In Brief

BERLIN – The Berlin Mayor and Council held its final September meeting Monday night. The town council discussed a variety of issues. A selection follows below.

The townwide power failure on Sunday morning was due to an equipment problem, not, as electric utility staff initially thought, the result of a dead snake found across an electric transformer. Once the snake was removed from the transformer, Berlin electric workers thought the problem was resolved, only to see the power once again fail on restart.

The issue, said Electric Manager Dave Thomas, then seemed to be a fault in the controller of a voltage regulator in a substation on Schoolfield St. Once that was changed out, things went back to normal.

“We shouldn’t have lost the whole town,” Thomas said. “One circuit at most should have been affected.”

While that equipment is supposed to be checked every three years, this one has probably not been checked for six to eight years, Thomas said

Flooding east of the Perdue grain plant, in the vicinity of  Graham Avenue and Nelson Streets, will see some reduction after a stormwater pond now under construction is completed.

The flooding in that neighborhood has been a problem for 25 years, according to Berlin Mayor Gee Williams.

The stormwater pond will be a more permanent and effective fix than other approaches, Williams said.

“They’re just overwhelmed. It probably should have been put in a long, long time ago,” Williams said.

Staff and elected officials are looking into stormwater fixes that fall under the town’s current means, are modest investments and that can be undertaken with in-house labor, he said, in an effort to ameliorate flooding conditions sooner at the most critical problem areas.

The town will not launch a major stormwater initiative for several years. Wastewater improvements must be made first, which will then be followed by water system improvements. A major stormwater initiative will then become the priority.

“There’s no need to wait for months and months and months if we can take immediate action…I think we can do something,” said Williams.

The town of Berlin has received refunds from workman’s compensation insurance premiums totaling $123, 794.

That amount is equivalent to 91 percent of a year’s workman’s compensation insurance premiums, according to staff.

Berlin Human Resources Director Rachel Bomar worked with the town’s insurer to re-classify certain employees, the majority in the electric utility. The reclassification, which requires the town to pay less in premiums on those workers, is grandfathered into the rate structure for the last few years. 

“It was a very profitable exercise for the town,” said Bomar.

The new designations will continue to save the town money in the future in reduced premiums, but Bomar warned that the town will not be getting any more big refund checks from the reclassification.

Three-quarters of the returned monies were assigned back to the electric utility.

Berlin Economic Development Director Michael Day reported Monday night that he has begun to list available commercial properties on the website, beginning with a shop for rent on William St., home to TaDa, now moving to Main Street proper.

“I’m starting to get some interest there,” said Day.

One potential renter will make a third visit to that shop site next week, according to Day.