Cost Of New Technology Water Meters Meets Resident’s Opposition

The Crothersville Town Council decided to move forward to upgrade the town’s water meters to a computerized remote read type when they met last Tuesday. But they did so over the objections of local resident Fred Lewis.
The town is proposing to replace around 740 manually read water meters with meters can be remotely read by a water utility worker in a vehicle. The cost of that upgrade is estimated at $108,000.
To pay for that the town was considering seeking a rate study (much as they did for the wastewater treatment project) from the accounting firm Umbaugh & Associates.
Council president Ardell Mitchell said that there would be some cost savings by no longer needing two people to read the meters each month and an advantage to water users is consistent water meter readings in addition to reducing keyboarding time for the utility’s clerical staff.
But local resident Fred Lewis told the council he opposed paying more for local water.
“We shouldn’t be raising rates. We need to be lowering them. They just keep going up, up up,” said Lewis.
The council members agreed that rate increases were a part of life.
“Of the things that I buy, I don’t know anything that has gone down in price,” said Mitchell. “Do you, Fred?”
“But there are a lot of people in town on fixed incomes and they can’t afford all of these increases,” said Lewis.
“We have to be able to maintain the water system and provide quality drinking water,” said Mitchell.
He noted that last year the town was treating nearly 270,000 gallons of water a month but not billing near that much. “We have been repairing leaks to the system,” said Mitchell.
“In August we treated just 80,000 gallons. We were paying a lot to treat water that was never racing the town’s water customers,” said town street superintendent Errol Isenhower.
“By far the biggest complaint the town gets on water bills is the inconsistency in billing and the estimated bills,” said Mitchell. “The remote read meters will eliminate estimated bills. And if there is a leak at your house, we will be able to inform you about it sooner so you can take action.”
“(Nearby) Stucker Fork water is only about $15 a month,” said Lewis. “Maybe you ought to let them take over (the local utility).”
“If we sell the water utility we don’t control the costs,” said councilwoman Karen Mains. “We let someone out of town tell us what to pay.”
Clerk-Treasurer Nalona Bush later explained that the town’s utility bill is for water, sewer, trash pick up and bi-weekly re-cycling. “All Stucker Fork charges for is water. Local residents would still have to pay for sewer, trash and recycling.”
The council voted unanimously to hire Umbaugh & Associates to review the local water rates.
In other business, the council:
•Set Large Trash Pickup for Oct. 11 for the southeast part of town, Oct. 18 for the northeast part of town, and Oct. 25 for the west side of town.
•Approved a sixth home for renovations under the state funding housing rehabilitation project. They were told the first approved home’s renovation had been completed and a second was expected to have been completed by the end of last week.
•Approved first reading of a local ordinance prescribing how sidewalks are to be constructed, maintained and repaired & replaced when necessary.
•Declined to take action on a request to raise the speed bumps on Marshall Drive.