City council opts to increase fees for new water meter installs

Posted May 12, 2020 at 1:51 pm

New Albany Water Department customers who will be having meters installed will be seeing a higher cost of meter installation and other adjusted costs following action taken by Albany City Council last week.

The council, after discussing issues with the water and sewer departments at length at a previous call meeting the week before, took official action on the new rates at its regular meeting last Tuesday, May 5. Five of six council members were present, along with water and sewer department employees.

The council held another discussion about the costs incurred by the water department, including the cost of installing meters, labor costs, and other associated fees before deciding on a fee to charge.

Following the discussion, a motion was made by councilman Reed Sloan to increase the rate for installing a meter box to $750.00, for an average sized three-quarter inch line, which most residential customers have.

It will also include charges for repairs to meters on property where damages are not caused by the city. The amount paid for by customers will also be based on current market values, according to the motion that was made and passed by unanimous vote.

The current installation fee for a meter box is $625.00.

The motion also includes setting a fee for a road boar at $250.00.

The city took the action to cover the cost of the meters, as well as part of the labor and repair costs.

It was also noted that the cost of the meter box installation could vary depending on the size, etc.

Apparently, the city may launch a campaign to inform the public of the new rates and changes, as well as giving a price list to customers who have a meter box installed.

During the discussion on the issue, Kenneth Delk, with the water department, informed the council that the cost of the meter boxes to be installed was $647.00, meaning the city was actually losing $22 on each box installed, not counting labor and other associated expenses.

He also told the council that the city had not been charging customers for road boar work and had not been for several years.

Councilman Sloan said, “We (city) can’t keep losing money.”

Council member Rene York said, “We don’t want to spring this (rate increase) on people, but should let the people be aware of what is going on in advance.”

When asked whether or not the action had to be done via ordinance, city legal advisor Norb Sohm said it did not, and could be voted on up or down since it was a business decision being made by the council.

It was also suggested that a price list on all sizes of meters be obtained so customers would be aware of the rates they are being charged.

Council member Tonya Thrasher also noted that there may be a difference in the amounts that people pay, depending on the meter size, noting everyone would not be paying the same.

Councilman Tony Delk said the city needed to look at what they were charging right now compared to the cost to the city to install the meters and agreed there needed to be a fee set for road boar work.

It was councilman Delk who made the suggestion to increase the rate by basically covering the cost incurred by the city, with council member York also agreeing that costs, due to the city being tied to current market values, would be subject to change.

The council also discussed setting a service call charge and a service call fee for equipment, but opted to get information from surrounding cities on how they charge for those type services before taking any actions on those matters.

Sewer department supervisor Eric Smith also noted to the council that sewer taps should also be raised, saying the current cost of $350 per sewer tap had been in place for years.

However, he did say the water department issue was most pressing since it set several meters a month and the sewer department does far fewer sewer taps.

Jeff Conner, supervisor of the water plant, said that new chemical trials had begun and they were working with a different company to try and get chemicals that will be effective at a lower cost.

In other business:

* The council, on a motion by Delk, approved the annual Municipal Road Aid agreement in the amount of $36,945 for the 2020-21 fiscal year. This is down a little over $3,000 from last year’s total funding for street repairs.

* It was noted that last year’s audit report had still not been received and is now months overdue.

* Albany Mayor Lyle Pierce congratulated the Clinton County High School Senior Class of 2020, wishing each graduate good luck.

The next regular meeting of Albany City Council is scheduled for June 2 at 5 p.m. at city hall.