Snead utilities would like all radio-read meters

Snead utilities department head Jeff Whited expressed his preference for the purchase and installation of additional radio-read water meters before winter. Addressing the town council, Whited estimated the total cost at $320,000. Councilmen Dale Snead and Tim Kent suggested the council wait until the newly elected mayor and council take office in November to make that decision.

Town clerk Rae Ware had advised that the town would have to borrow money in order to make such a large expenditure. Ware appeared supportive of the move, noting that a new meter installed at Susan Moore schools had resulted in a considerable increase in charges. She and Whited contend that old meters are not providing accurate reads.

Whited explained that general guidelines recommend meter replacement every 10 or so years. He elaborated that radio-read meters provide detailed usage and reduce calls for re-reads over disputed bills. He contended that some towns have found they have recouped costs within one to one-and-a-half years of service.

Whited also noted the town should save on fuel and labor costs. He said one employee could read the meters in four to six hours rather than the three days with the old meters. The town has already replaced between 450 and 500 of approximately 1800 meters.

Ware offered to solicit bank proposals for a five-year loan to provide additional guidance for the council. Whited suggested councilors might look at revenue differences for the already replaced meters to determine how long it might take the town to recover its costs.

In another water department matter, Whited updated councilors on his previously suggested remedy to problems along the Mt. Carmel line. He had suggested that an emergency generator might solve the problem of air in the lines along that route when power interruptions occur.

Reviewing his research, Whited said he had found that the required generator would run around $46,000 rather than the $3,000 he had anticipated. For a bit more than that figure, he added, the town could have a replacement generator at the well rather than depend on one at the pump station.

He also advised that the possible use of an additional storage tank appeared unworkable under present ADEM (Alabama Department of Environmental Management) rules. Those rules require that any water so stored must have at least a 50 percent turn-over each day. He offered to explore future grant funds for a generator but recommended that the town delay action for the present. Under prodding, he agreed to inform customer Bo Kornegay of the situation.

Police chief Alan Hicks won approval to add William Michael Gardner as a reserve, pending physical and background checks. The council also agreed to send in-coming Mayor La’Shone Price to a League of Municipalities training in November.

In other matters, councilors voted to pay $1,670 to the county animal shelter as the town’s requested contribution. They authorized Ware to solicit CD quotes and deposit two maturing at the local bank with the best rate. Members agreed to meet at 6:30 p.m. prior to their next regular session to review the proposed 2017 fiscal budget.

Councilors Greg Ogles and Charles Sanders missed the Sept. 26 meeting, attended by Mayor Curtis Painter and councilors Phillip McHan, Snead, and Kent. The council holds its regular meetings the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. in the town community center.