Monette Council talks meter readers

Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Michael Shipp, meter specialist with Winwater in Little Rock, presented the Monette Council with several meter reader options. (Town Crier photo/Christie Zolman)

The Monette City Council discussed the need for a new handheld meter reader for the water department at its Monday, Feb. 23, regular meeting.

Michael Shipp, meter specialist with Winwater in Little Rock, presented the Council with several options including a basic handheld meter reader called Jet, a Rugby handheld meter reader with camera, gps and other features, and a laptop system.

The laptop system would require new meters but according to Jerry Lamar of the city's water and sewer department 60 percent of the town's 565 water meters are in need of updating. The laptop system would work with the handheld meter reader, would provide a number of data logs, and would allow meters to be read by radio signal. Council members felt new meters would also help with the city's water loss.

"There is only about a $500 difference between the Jet and the Rugby handheld," Shipp said. "If you just want to upgrade your handheld right now but want the new system in future you can upgrade a little at a time. If you have an old meter that goes out you can put a new meter in and upgrade that way a little at a time."

The Council voted unanimously to purchase the Rugby handheld and discussed the possibility of adding the new meters and laptop system into the grant for the new sewer plant.

Mayor Chub Qualls informed the council the survey for the new sewer plant has been done and the city can arrange it on the land they have but Qualls said the land needs to be straightened up. He suggested talking to the farmer that owns the land around the sewer plant to see if that can be done.

"We won't need to buy new land now but I would like to see us look into straightening that up to be more square," Qualls said. We did receive a letter from ADEQ that we had 20 days to answer. It said we were being fined $3,600 for our sewer plant being out of compliance but if we responded within the time frame the fine would be cut in half. We did that and as long as we stick to our corrective action plan (build a new plant) we are okay."

In other business Monette City Attorney Johnny Dunigan spoke to the council about Ordinance 2014-3 dealing with building, plumbing and electrical codes and zoning. Dunigan said the ordinance is not a planning commission ordinance. He said the ordinance is a city ordinance that brings the city up to state standard codes and it stands on its own.

Ordinance 2014-3 was read for the first time in December, the second in January but the third reading tabled for clarification. Dunigan said those clarifications had been made and recommended the council not read the ordinance for a third time until the planning commission presented the council with a resolution setting fees. He recommended the two be passed at the same time. The council agreed and will discuss the matter again at its next meeting.

The council also voted unanimously to purchase a side mount mower for the city's John Deere tractor. The purchase was already built into this year's city budget. The council also gave Mayor Qualls permission to purchase a service vehicle for the water and sewer department for no more than $10,000 with the cost being split between the two departments. The council voted unanimously to sell two old city mowers and an old police car by separate sealed bids.

Alderman Tom Carroll updated the council on the review of the employee handbook. A handbook committee was formed last month. The group is discussing recommendations for vacation sale back, number of sick days carried over, a sick bank for employees, and if sick days can be cashed in when an employee retires or quits.

Alderman Jason Stewart left the meeting while the council discussed payment for a handheld meter reader Stewart let the city use for the past eight months but is now broken. Since a new meter reader costs $2,500 and the city did use Stewart's until it was no longer usable the council voted unanimously, with Stewart abstaining, to pay Stewart $1,000 for his meter reader.

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