Water billing concerns addressed

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Monette City Council addressed water and sewer billing concerns and misunderstandings with multi-metered facilities at the council meeting Monday, Aug. 23. Alderman Perry Wood addressed the council concerning term completion of his appointed position.

Michael Ship with Winwater of Little Rock explained the use of Master Meter data collection systems and commercial digital meter reading equipment.

Ship displayed a digital meter and explained how the equipment was used.

"I found water loss on four out of the seven meters I tested here in town," Ship said. "Low flow on meters does not always register. You may not want to replace all your meters at first and can work out a process that is best for you. If you have 560 meters you might look at replacing 50 or 100 a year, for several years, until you get them switched out."

Standard meter cost was listed at $40, with $180 to add the electronic register system allowing employees to read them from a distance. The standard electronic meter standard laptop system is $22,000 and the handheld system is $13,000.

"The new digital system will allow you to find leaks and to know when someone is tampering with a meter," Ship said. "This will allow you to capture the revenue you are not losing. One person can read all your meters in half a day instead of two people working a day and a half each. The readers can work from a vehicle and drive through the town and the register will pick up the readings on both sides of the street."

The council expressed their appreciation to Ship and will hold future meetings to formulate a plan for meter replacement.

Billy Mitchell addressed the council concerning SBA polyurethane finishing to repair roof leaks at the Buffalo Island Museum. Mitchell recommended removing recent additives, down to the hot tar roof itself. He agreed to remove metal additives, level the sinkholes with ICO board, and seal the structure with a one-inch layer of polyurethane for a total cost of $11,500. He will provide a 10-year warranty for the success of the project.

"This is a sustainable system and should serve you well," Mitchell said. "We did the Collins Theatre in Paragould three or four years ago and they had the same problem and roof style that you have. This is a single coat system. You may want to redo it every 10 years for the life of the building. The follow ups will be 50 percent the initial cost."

"If the seal has a R13 factor rating, then that is the equaiivant of five inches of insulation," Alderman Perry Wood said. "That sounds good."

The council discussed the lift station pump north of town and work on the sewer system. A spare will be ordered and an emergency meter source used if needed. The city will advertise for bids on sewer system repair.

The citywide Night out at the Park will be held from 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21.

The council reviewed the low bid of $139,966 from Vance Construction Company for building a ballpark concession stand.

"We plan to negotiate with Vance and hope to get the cost down to $126,000 so we can stay within our budget," Mayor Qualls said. "We may not complete the concession stand at this time. We will have to study this some more to see where we can cut corners."

"You may want to use a one year small loan on the difference to finish the job," Alderman Dickie Pace said.

Aldermen accepted a bid of $1,881 from Mark Rolland and David Clark to repair fencing at the ballpark and tennis courts.

Alderman Wood gave the report from the Water and Sewer Committee meeting.

"The billing has been done and ready to go," Wood said. "The rate codes are in place. The trashcan numbers for customers' profiles are not completed yet, but will be. "

"One half of past due amounts plus the current bills will be due with the September bill," Water clerk Dana McKuin said. "There will be no exceptions. Mayor Qualls is the only one who can deal with people on this matter."

"I want to explain what the mix-up was last month with Monette Housing Authority billing," Wood said. "They are not getting a flat rate and have been paying for extra gallons used. The mix up on this has been the city's fault. We need to meet one more time and get all of this straightened out."

"The math was wrong on the letter of Sept. 3, 2002 that I was using for a reference," Wood said. "There was a clerical error on our part. We also took them (MHS) more trashcans than they had asked for, and that was our fault also. Christopher Homes has actually been over charged in error. BIC Schools is within a few dollars now of what they have been paying."

"None of this is really as bad as it first appeared," Wood said. "I should have investigated better. Within three days I found out the truth. I stand corrected on this now."

The Water and Sewer Committee went from 88 rate codes down to 28, in order to simplify the water clerk's job.

"Some business sanitation services were being charged less than the going rate, and that fell back on the city," Wood said. "There were a few cases where people were not paying, but everything has been put on line now and on a fair basis of paying. We saw a $400 gain last month, and everything is square."

Mayor Qualls and Alderman Wood praised Water Clerk McKuin for her work on the transition.

"It is a state law for our annexed people to be paying for sanitation service," Qualls said. "We are still working on the ones who are not paying."

A trailer for the city's generator will be purchased for $850.

The council discussed floodplain maps and the need to pass an ordinance for flood insurance.

At the close of the meeting Alderman Wood addressed the council concerning his recent domestic dispute, which led to his arrest and charges.

"I'm having personal problems," Wood said. "I don't know how this is going to work out. I would like to serve out the remainder of Byron's (Sparkman) term, which will be through this year. I can resign tonight or when this is over. It is up to you. I am not capable of making that decision at this time."

"Until you are convicted, I can see no reason for you not to serve," Alderman Bob Blankenship said. "Only you can decide that. Our hearts ache for you on this. We support you on this and can deal with the rest when it happens."

The council voted unanimously to allow Wood to continue his appointed term of office.

"Perry, we support you one hundred percent," Mayor Qualls said. "We will take this a day at a time. You can resign or withdraw later, but I hope you will go ahead and file for election to the council. You have done a good job here."

All Monette officials said they will be seeking another term of office, with the deadline for filing on Tuesday noon, Aug. 24.

The next regular council meeting will be 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 27, at city hall.

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