November 24, 2014

Standish City Council discusses water meter improvements

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
Posted

STANDISH – The Standish City Council discussed changes to the city’s water billing schedule Monday, Nov. 21 at its monthly meeting, focusing primarily on meter upgrades.

No decisions regarding the meters were made at the November meeting.

The city currently uses Badger water meters. Mayor Mark Winslow said it currently takes about a week to read the meters and input the data into the city’s computer system.

Winslow said city officials have discussed replacing the meters entirely, which would cost $350,000. Alternatively, he explained, they could simply “replace the guts” of the Badger meters.

City Manager Curtis Hillman said upgrading the meters would involve simply replacing the meter head with a newer model that could be read from a distance.

“You could read them with a radio or handheld reader from going down the street,” Winslow said.

Upgrading the meters could speed up the reading and billing process, according to Hillman, who said that all the city’s meters could be read in half a day. In addition, the handheld meter reader, included with the replacement heads, uses a portable flash drive to move the reader data to a computer, saving the city’s clerical staff time as well.

Upgrading the meters would also mean the city could repair broken meters. Hillman explained that the parts for the current Badger Read-o-Matic water meter system are no longer produced, and they have a limited supply of replacements.

With these changes, he said the city could move to a monthly billing cycle, which would mean smaller bills for residents.

“Those six month bills can be pushing $1,000,” he said. “Some people just can’t afford that.”

Hillman said Municipal Supply offered the city 10 new meters, the handheld meter reader, the computer software, and training for $11,500 to get a head start on the program.

A newer, more expensive Omni meter offered by Sensus would allow officials to read meters without even leaving city hall. The Omni meter has no moving parts that need to be replaced, Hillman said, but a plumber is needed for installation. Replacing the heads on the current meters, he added, only requires a special tool.

Councilman Doug Ireland expressed concerns that the radio signals used in the new system emitted by the new meter heads could affect residents with pacemakers. Hillman did not believe that to be the case, but said it was something to look into while making a decision.

In other city council news, the council tabled a proposal by Councilman Charlie Macaulay to place a stop sign at the intersection of Elm and Grove. The stop sign would slow traffic speeds on Elm due to the road’s pedestrian usage.

Ireland opposed the stop sign, citing the police chief not seeing a need for it without a study being done, plus his own dislike of stop signs at “every intersection.” Councilman Jerry Nelson suggested that the council look into the sign more and revisit the issue later.

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