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Scotia eyes bond for new water meters

Monday, June 11, 2012
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— Village officials are in the planning stages for a multimillion dollar bond proposal.

The centerpiece of the plan would be roughly $2 million to install on all village properties water meters that would be able to be read from a distance.

Mayor Kris Kastberg said the village would be able to get a more accurate accounting of how much water is being used.

Under the current system, residents fill out cards with the meter readings and village workers do a check of one-fifth of the properties every year to see if the reading was accurate. Scotia officials believe that the village could be collecting more revenue.

However, Kastberg said the village would also have to adjust its water rates to reflect the higher use figures. He used the example of residents’ water use increasing 300 percent with the more accurate meters.

“You obviously can’t charge them the old rate because their assessment would go up by 300 percent,” he said.

Another issue is whether to buy the meters or lease them. Municipalities have done both.

The village is researching the pluses and minuses of both methods.

While the water meters would be the centerpiece of this bonding proposal, Kastberg said other projects that could be included would be buying a new pumper truck at a cost of about $500,000, putting a new roof on the Department of Public Works building and other odds and ends from departments such as vehicle purchases.

Kastberg said one issue is how much of a bond payment the village could afford while working under the constraints of the state’s property tax cap law.

Village Attorney Lydia Marola said she does not believe bond payments would be exempt from the tax cap but would check on the matter.

The village has a relatively tight time frame if it wants the meters to be operational by next year. Village officials hope the scope of the proposed bonding project will be defined over the next few weeks.

Public Works Superintendent Andrew Kohout said it would take four months to install and then a couple more months to get the system up and running. The plan would be for the meters to be operational by next May.

Trustee Tom Neals expressed support for the project.

“I just hope we don’t drag our feet on this because I’d like to see these meters as soon as possible,” he said.

 
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