|1/14/2022 1:17:00 PM|
Water billings in Center City getting corrected; meters with no readings to be replaced in coming weeks
The public works department in Center City got the okay last week to start replacing questionable water metering equipment. Public Works Supervisor Eric Garner has chipped away at a few addresses whose meters are registering oddly, mostly installed at the same time years ago in the Dew Drop townhomes neighborhood.
He has a list of 22 other municipal customers that have unusual readings or that aren’t transmitting data at all. He got the go-ahead to order a dozen radio heads (transmitter) at about $100 each, and also use the meters in stock and those already ordered to start updating systems.
Mayor Jill Behnke and Council member Madonna Higgins attended the council session on-line. Lloyd Vetter, Mark Wolcott and Ryan Pease, and staff were in person at city hall.
The poor performance of the city’s aging water metering system started to become a concern when records of pumped water gallons didn’t come close to billed gallons.
Garner said he knows about how much the fire department utilizes and how much is discharged with hydrant flushing and explained that some addresses are registering meter readings that can’t be realistic. There are addresses where no readings have been generated— due to dead radio head batteries and/or obsolete equipment and these will be addressed first.
In reviewing accounts, staff also noticed some addresses had gallons “estimated” for a year now, longer than city code allows.
And, some accounts have not been updated with in person meter verifications for a very long time. Four addresses were identified by public works as feasible to get physical access to, and change out equipment fairly simply, and these will be priority now. There are snowbirds who leave for the winter and Garner just has to await their return to gain entry.
State sales tax tied to the water service also needs to be collected from some accounts that haven’t been assessed for this, since about 2016 according to staff. The finance director has been paying the sales tax due to the state, but current city staff can’t find where the tax was charged or was deposited.
New City Clerk/Treasurer Valerie Fox told council last week she wanted council to be aware some 2022 water bills were going to be extra large as the city attempts to collect the owed sales tax.
On the flip side, there have also been accounts that have overpaid, and these will be seeing refunds as soon as calculations are possible, Fox added.
In other matters:
~ Council heard the sign for the fire hall is being billed at approximately $3,200, which was approved.
~ The stand alone house next to the boat landing by the middle school is looking into city services. It would need to annex into Center City officially, which has not been initiated yet. Lindstrom is cooperative as it’s an outlying parcel and legal agreements will need to be drafted and approved by each city.
~ The county road Pleasant Valley—between 310th and Hwy, 8 is slated for work in spring and tree removal will be noticed soon— as the county readies the segment for curve softening, new paving and shoulders.
~ An expense of about $3,500 was the estimated fiscal impact of a $1 per hour raise requested by the year-round regular staff. The one dollar was adopted.
~ The truck incident the city experienced last summer, when Public Works had its lawn mowing crew truck, which was parked at I.G. Long Park, stolen, ended up with citizens of Center City paying $18,353. The insurance covered $40,414.
The city took rapid ownership of a new work truck and it is in use, accessorized for duty.
~ The February council and HRA meetings are moved to Tuesday, Feb. 8 due to a GOP caucus taking place in the city hall at night, Tuesday, Feb. 1