Monette Council hears new water meter presentation

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Monette City Council discussed upgrading water meters for 100 percent accuracy and prevention of water revenue loss at the council meeting held Monday, May 16.

Mayor Chub Qualls introduced Winwater Works representative Charlie Barber and product specialist Doug Ford for a presentation about potential and cost of Master Meter system installation.

"Water meters are just water meters, it is the accuracy that counts," Ford said. "A meter is like a cash register. Master Meter offers a multi-et positive displacement meter measured by speed and volume. It is magnetically driven and is wireless. They are radio read but have nothing external. This eliminates future maintenance. There is a 10-year warranty on the electronic register and 20-year warranty on accuracy."

"You can read the meters from a half mile away, and you could read the meters in this city in about an hour and 15 minutes," he said. "Water loss is a major concern, which means water usage that is not going through a meter. Sewer meters can be plugged into this system also. The meter software will interface with the system you now have."

Ford reported his testing on six Monette existing high flow meters revealed an accuracy reading average of 82.7 percent. At 84 percent accuracy collections would be $1,399 million dollars in 10 years. Changing to new 100 percent accuracy meters would yield $1,724 million dollars. The cost of each Master Meter with electronic register is $187 each and the cost of equipment is $21,500. A setter and box addition to the meter would cost $200. An estimate to change out total meters was $115,000.

"We were sold on the meters the last time you were here," Alderman Perry Wood said. "We just have to figure out if we can afford them. It would take us about a year to change over. We would have to make a work order for every meter that needed changing."

"Changing our meters would mean about $35,000 more revenue each year," Alderman Dick Pace said. "It would take four years to re-coop the cost of putting in the meters."

The meter system would provide documentation and a 24-hour alarm system to potential problems.

No decision for purchase was made but the council agreed to continue to review cost and options.

Mayor Qualls reported completion of construction of ballpark concession stand. Handicapped walkways and more chat will be added to the adjacent area.

Alderman Tom Carroll requested the use of a 60-foot lift for replacing six bulbs and adjustment of lights at the ballpark. Mayor Qualls agreed to check out possibilities of securing a lift.

Carroll also reported the electrical panel at the tennis court is locked, thus preventing usage. Qualls also agreed to take care of the situation.

A lease agreement for use of the building formerly used by the Craighead County Sheriffs Department Substation was received from Craighead County Judge Ed Hill. The five-year lease will be effective from May 1, 2011 until May 1, 2016, at $50 per month. The City of Monette will be responsible for improvements, repairs, taxes, use and insurance. Plans are to relocate the city Police Department to that location.

"We voted not to do anything until we received this agreement, but the police officers moved in without permission from us," Alderman Bob Blankenship. "They jumped the gun by moving in before we received the agreement."

"The city should always follow protocol when the council makes a decision," Pace said. "We haven't voted on this agreement yet."

"If they don't follow protocol, then why should we be here?" Wood said.

The council voted 4-0 to enter into the agreement with Blankenship abstaining.

The council voted to no longer post cut-off notices on doors, but follow notifications as outlined on water bills. The council voted to raise the re-connect fees from $10 to $30, effective July 1.

Fire Chief Blankenship announced the donation of $6,000 from the Fire Department towards the purchase of a new weather siren. The total cost listed by Paragould Communications is $7,900 for delivery, installation, and work guarantee. The siren is omni-directional, with eight warning horns and less maintenance. Currently there are sirens east and west of town and a manual alarm at the fire station. The council voted to purchase the system.

The council reviewed condemnation of properties on Nance and Virginia, and a request to make improvements to sloped sidewalks on main street.

Alderman Pace presented a salary adjustment request for 2011 prepared by himself and Alderman Billy Watson.

The adjustment listed pay scales with five classifications and caps on salaries. Any positions not capped out will receive merit increases and review. The five classifications include: 1. Superintendents; 2. Administrative; 3. Elected positions; 5. Full time and part time hourly employees. Set fees were set for mileage from use of personal vehicles for city business. Future raises will be submitted for city council approval prior to the employee being told yes or no concerning raises. Department heads and Mayor will be present with employee when they are being reviewed for merit raises. Cost of living increases will be reviewed annually. All bonuses will be based on city income subject to council approval.

Concerns about last year's $30,000 in overtime were discussed along with a need for a review of the employee manual.

The $3,650 semi-annual increase will be addressed again at the June 20 meeting for enactment July 1, 2011.

Blankenship asked for permission for the American Legion to do something special at the Highway 18 and 139 intersection for Memorial Day.

"We want to flood the area with flags, since we can't place them on light poles this holiday," Blankenship said.

The council unanimously approved the display.

The council voted to support State Representative Homer Lenderman's proposal to keep Monette, Caraway and Black Oak in same district with minor map adjustments.

Complaints were received about people bringing their animals to the storm shelter, as they are dangerous to small children. The city already bans animals from entrance and will depend on police officers to enforce the code.

Memorial Day services will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 29, at the Monette Cemetery.

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