Public Information & Customer Relations Committee Minutes – April 4, 2017
For your consideration, please read the minutes from the Public Information & Customer Relations Committee Meeting held on April 4, 2017:
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Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water & Sewer Commission
1703 Gloucester Street, Brunswick, GA 31520
Commission Meeting Room
Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at 2:00 PM
PUBLIC INFORMATION & CUSTOMER RELATIONS
Steve Copeland, Chairman
Cornell Harvey, Commissioner
Donald Elliot, Chairman of Commission
Jimmy Junkin, Executive Director
Jay Sellers, Public Information Officer
Robert Bowen, Commissioner
John Donaghy, Chief Financial Officer
Chairman Copeland called the meeting to order at 2:00 PM.
PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD
Mrs. Monica Smith – New Service Applications. Mrs. Smith provided two recommendations to the Committee as follows: (1) Modify the JWSC New Customer Application process to eliminate Social Security numbers, and (2) Set up the system so that Lessors/Landlords are ultimately responsible for a bill in the event it isn’t paid by the tenant. John Donaghy responded to Mrs. Smith. He advised that the JWSC is required under the Red Flag Rules set forth by the Federal Trade Commission in order to identify all customers in the system to help in avoiding identity theft, of which utility services are one of the areas persons would falsely identify themselves in the application process. He added that it is required to have utility bills in your name to obtain a driver’s license in Georgia, which is one reason the FTC has mandated use of SSN’s in identification. Mrs. Smith suggested that this use of SSN’s should be researched and challenged. John Donaghy also noted that there are laws prohibiting billing landlords for monies past due from tenants for services.
- Minutes from the February 28, 2017 Committee Meeting
Commissioner Harvey made a motion seconded by Commissioner Elliott to approve the minutes from February 28, 2017 Public Information & Customer Relations Committee Meeting. Motion carried 3-0-1 (Commissioner Bowen was absent.)
- Effective Community Engagement Program – J. Sellers
Jay Sellers presented that in previous meeting, the Committee discussed the organizational vision and mission statement, and narrowing that down to answer what can we do to have a more concise mission and vision statement for this Committee. He mentioned that in being more concise in keeping with the organizational mission of promoting the BGJWSC value to the whole community. Jay added that the mission of this Committee is to develop, implement and monitor the information that is communicated to the public and to ensure that all communication is transparent, timely, accurate and thorough. He noted there were three methods considered for an effective community engagement program were as follows: (1) website design update, (2) town hall meetings, and (3) potential focus group volunteers. The current BGJWSC website (designed in 2013-2014) was displayed and the newsfeed style was discussed, along with how the information is presented, and that as items are posted they are placed at the top and push down the previous postings. Jay added that Staff is looking at some other options for design that would be good for the BGJWSC website. The website for Birmingham Water Works was then displayed and discussed as an example of a website based on icons rather than newsfeed. It was considered that the current news of importance and interest for JWSC customers could be placed on a scrolling banner at the top of the screen, such as Birmingham has several area pictures scrolling on theirs. Other websites were displayed such as the Glynn County website, and Oklahoma City’s which were designed by outside site design sources. Jay noted costs of website design and use of them for posting news. For example, the BGJWSC website was designed by Jay at zero costs other than his time, and the monthly cost to the JWSC is about $9.00 per month. Oklahoma City’s website was designed at a cost of about $125,000.00 plus annual fees associated. Jay referred to other more important priorities of the JWSC such as Lift Station Projects, and indicated there is no immediate intent at this time to invest a large amount of money in a website design. Realizing that the JWSC’s website does need some tweaking, his department is interested in doing some incremental in-house redesign to make our website more attractive to the public. Jay also noted that changes in the website would be concurrent with the upcoming and more informative Paymentus customer portal of which will be accessed through the JWSC website. Another important point was made that the theme of the website needs to be responsive on a mobile device, as compared to our current site.
A brief discussion developed regarding the Public Information Town Hall Meetings currently scheduled for May. It was noted that these meetings should not be held at or around the same time as the upcoming Finance Town Hall Meetings. The cancellation of the Public Information Town Hall Meetings for May was confirmed.
Potential Focus Groups was also discussed. Methods of reaching out to the community and understanding the needs of citizens and how they communicate were noted. The challenges associated with effective development of communications and timely publishing of important notices that are transparent, accurate and thorough are a point of concern to the Committee.
- Community Lifeblood Campaign – “Value of the JWSC” – J. Sellers
Jay presented the Community Lifeblood Campaign Introduction – Draft Version 1.0 to the Committee, which he prepared in March. He read from the drafted document which will be used to help express to the BGJWSC customers and the whole community the value of the JWSC as a source of life-giving freshwater, and its aim to provide reliable services. This document explains that in order to provide healthy quality water, investments in infrastructure capital improvements (referred to as repair, rehabilitation and capacity expansion) are required to support our home, industrial and economic activities. It also helps to clarify why rates may need to be revised over time to accommodate fiscally responsible infrastructure development and daily operational costs of the water and wastewater system.
- Standards of Practice – J. Sellers
Standards of Practice was discussed among the group. Jay Sellers presented that the State does not dictate all the Practices of the JWSC, such as Boil Water Advisories and how they should be communicated to the public. He discussed the section from the Draft Version 1.0 of the Public Information & Customer Relations Standards of Practice for BGJWSC, regarding “Boil Water Advisory – Best Practices.” The procedures of initiating a Boil Water Advisory were noted, as well as the “all-clear” notices, affected area maps, and the use of door knob notices. Jay further discussed the Emergency Notification Needs and the planned Opt-Out system. This future notification system will only be used for service outages or boil water advisories. Jay indicated that he would like for this future system to only contact those residents or customers in the affected areas, and preferably via phone and/or electronic means. As a board member with the Local Emergency Planning Committee, Jay is also in the process of assuming the responsibility for upgrading content on emergency radio station, FM104.9, and will be able to remotely upload recorded Boil Water Advisories to the radio station.
- “Proudly Serving High Quality H2O” Campaign – J. Sellers
Jay Sellers explained that the purpose of the “Proudly Serving High Quality H2O” Campaign is to promote awareness of the BGJWSC as a lifesaving utility in the community. He gave a brief presentation of how this campaign would showcase partnership with restaurants and public facilities that distribute JWSC’s water to their customers. Jay will continue to work on this project and will provide additional numbers and estimates of any related costs associated.
Executive Director Update
Meeting was adjourned at 3:27 pm.