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Trinity Standard - Local News

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Automatic meter reading eyed by council
Trinity Standard -

TRINITY – After receiving one proposal earlier this year costing over $900,000, the Trinity City Council looked at three more companies last week that offer an automatic water meter reading systems. This time the price tag was much more to the council’s liking – around $400,000. The council is currently in the process of studying the possibility of acquiring the new system that would streamline water meter reading and provide new meters throughout the city. If they decided to proceed with the program, a set of specifications would be drafted and formal bids for the system would be sought. “Right now we’re just looking at the system and trying to decide exactly what we want to do,” City Manager Buddy Drake said after last week’s city council meeting. He noted that during 2010, the city purchased water from the Trinity River Authority and pumped water from its own wells located south of town. From those two sources, the city averaged about 35 million gallons a month. However, during that same period, it only averaged 15 million gallons in sales, for a loss rate of 57.5 percent. Drake indicated that a large portion of that loss could be attributed to old water meters that no longer accurately measure the amounts homeowners and businesses are using. “Right now we have about 400 meters that are not working at all,” he said. Under the plan being studied, the city would upgrade all of its 1,700 water meters, with each being equipped with a radio transmitter. The system now being studied would transmit the individual water readings directly to a computer located in the city hall, eliminating the need for meter readers. “If someone had a question about their bill or water usage, we could call up their account on the computer and get an up-to-date reading from the meter. We would know exactly how many gallons of water had been used and over what period of time,” Drake said. “We also would be able to see if someone was ‘playing paddy cake’ or whatever with a meter and could address the problem immediately,” he said. In the past, the city has caught people cutting locks off the city meters in order to gain unauthorized access to city water. He estimated that by using the accurate meter readings, the city could increase it income from water sales by between $108,000 and $110,000 per year. The city manager noted that all three of the companies that made presentations to the city last week offer financing plans that would allow the city to pay for the system over time. Expense report During the council meeting, Drake presented a report on the city’s solid water department’s income and its fuel and landfill expenses. Drake said that during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 31, 2010, the city paid $47,585 in landfill fees and spent $21,388 for fuel for a total of $68,973. He noted that the total does not include the payroll and maintenance costs for the trash collection service. During the year, revenue from trash collection totaled $285,989.15. From Oct. 1, 2010 through March of this year, landfill fees have totaled $26,724 while fuel has cost $12,886 for total expenses (excluding repairs and payroll) of $39,610, Total revenue during the six-month period was $142,595. “Our expenses so far this year are running a little higher than last year,” Drake noted Other action During the meeting, the city council also: • Appointed Monty Huffman as the city’s recreation director. Under the job assignment, Huffman will oversee the city baseball parks. • Approved the sale of $155,000 in time warrant to purchase a 2011 Freightliners M2 series chassis. The truck chassis will be used by the Trinity Volunteer Fire Department to construct another tanker, using equipment they already own. • Denied a request from Wade Greer for a building code variance. • Appointed Councilman Clegg DeWalt as the city’s representative on the Deep East Texas Council of Government’s board. • Appointed Eula English as the election judge for the May 14 city election. • Approved a lease agreement with Trinity County for the use of a county-owned AutoMark voting machine during the May 14 election. • Voted to disband the Trinity Police Department’s reserve program.

 

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