The Winchester City Council recently authorized up to $14,000 more for a nearly half a million dollar project to update the city’s water meters.
Alderman Lawrence Coultas told the city council at their July 6th regular meeting that due to a “miscommunication” between the new system’s manufacturer and the city’s utility department that 140 meters in the city would need to be replaced. According to Coultas, Utility Superintendent John Simmons believed the 140 meters would be compatible with the new system’s remote reading capability. The new system’s representative didn’t communicate information on the 140 older meters, and then the company came back and added the expense, according to Coultas. Coultas told Mayor Rex McIntire and the remaining council members that the company should honor the original bid of $415,000 and do the work due to their lack of communication. Coultas went on to say at the meeting that the company had already eaten part of the cost for the mix up. The cost to replace the meters would be approximately $100 each.
Despite the frustration and initial push back against the added expense, the city council unanimously authorized up to $14,000 to fix the issue.
The entire remote meter reading system, which will cost the city less money in manpower and salaries in the long run, is being paid for on a low-interest loan. The loan payments are being paid for through an increase in water rates, which passed back in May. It was the first water rate increase since 2015. Mayor Rex McIntire told the Journal Courier the $14,000 in additional costs won’t effect water rates.
The final new meters are set to be installed by the end of this month, but may be rescheduled into August. The city’s utility department will have to schedule times with homeowners to come into their homes to switch out the meters. The delay in getting the final meters set may also have to wait on the city’s utility billing cycle.