Friday, October 12, 2012

TOP STORY >> Council discusses new meter model

Leader staff writer

The Lonoke City Council learned at Monday’s meeting that the city’s water meters may be discontinued after the first of the year.

The aldermen discussed whether the meters that break before then should be replaced with the new model, which cost between $115 and $120 each compared to $60 for the current model.

The council did not vote on the issue.

The new meters are 97 percent accurate and guaranteed for 20 years, according to Mayor Wayne McGhee.

He said, “If it’s 19 years old and it goes out, you get a brand new one.”

The city last month replaced five of the old meters with the current model.

Alderman Pat Howell said, “I’ve heard anything from three to six years,” about how long the current meters last.

The old meters also lose accuracy after two or three years, public works director Brian Whitworth.

Howell said the city could save around $180,000 with the new meters because they can read the usage more quickly so that bills can be sent out sooner. That amount also factors in collecting on delinquent accounts.

Whitworth described the new meter model.

He said, “It does not have any working parts in it. It’s like a funnel. It comes in and it’s got two magnets on the side and that’s what does the reading.”

Whitworth added that the new meters wouldn’t be damaged if they were submerged.

Alderman Todd Wheat said, “I’ve said put them in the places that the have dogs, especially if you can’t get in the backyards. There are several of them. That eliminates any dog bites, trying to get in the fence, climbing the fence, falling off the fence.”

The new meters would also alert residents and the water department about leaks.

Howell said, “I think we should go ahead and replace them. Why would you buy ones that are going to be obsolete? We’re talking about $30 more for 20 years. It would be foolish not to do that.”

The mayor said, “We can do it all at once, it would be cheaper.” The software and handheld devices the department is using now are compatible with the new meters.