City Awards Bid for New Automated Read Water Meters

The City of Smithville will soon be replacing all customer water meters with new automated read meters.
The aldermen last week accepted a bid from Advanced Utility Services of North Little Rock Arkansas to supply approximately 2,500 new meters at a cost of $532,600. The project will be funded under a USDA Rural Development grant/loan program.
In 2010, the city received approval for a $95,000 grant and a $315,000 loan to pay for the purchase and installation of the new automated water meters. “The loan is set up through Rural Development at a 2.75% interest over a twenty year period. We can pay it off all at one time, over a couple of years, or over twenty years. The grant is free money to the city to help fund the project,” said City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson.
But since the project has been delayed, Hendrixson said the cost has increased. “We finally took bids on October 28. By the time we got bids after four years the cost of the project has gone up. We had a $122,000 higher cost than originally estimated. However Rural Development has approved to put that ($100,000) on the loan amount and the city will have to pay a match of $22,000 in an applicant cost overrun contribution,” said Hendrixson.
The new meters are expected be more accurate to help prevent water loss. Hendrixson said the system will save the city time, money, and wear and tear on city vehicles. “Instead of taking seven working days to have two men read meters, it will only take one day with these meters. Labor wise it will save a lot of money over time. From what we understand in talking to other utility districts, automated meters are a lot more accurate and usually revenue increases,” he said.
The new system also keeps a 90 day history of customer’s water usage and sensors are on the meters to alert city officials in the event of tampering or unusually large amounts of water usage.
Any city employee no longer needed to read meters will be reassigned to other positions in the public works department. No one will lose his job due to the new system.
City officials also stress that no increase in water or sewer rates would be needed to pay for it.

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