The town will be spending about $1.8 million to modernize the residential and commercial water meters throughout town, a move town officials said will make the calculation of water bills more accurate and efficient.
The meters being installed in about 5,500 homes and businesses can be read automatically from a vehicle driving down the street, similar to the way National Grid reads electric meters. The village of Scotia and town of Niskayuna also use remote reading systems.
“This will take what is now a three-month process and turn it into a three-day process,” said Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle.
The Town Board recently awarded two contracts totaling $1.78 million for the meters and their installation. Last week the Town Board voted to borrow $950,000, with the remainder of the project cost coming from a capital reserve account. The purchase includes both the meters and the computer software needed to read them.
The entire cost will be borne by water district customers. Koetzle said the project will add about $10 per year to each water bill, some of which will be offset through lower postage costs and the more-efficient use of staff once the billing system changes.
Currently, the town mails out a card and asks residents to read their meter and return the card to Town Hall.
“It’s an arduous process,” Koetzle said. “We send out the cards to residents, we ask the residents to read the cards, sometimes they’re read incorrectly, and we have non-reads where people don’t send the cards back. This will eliminate that problem.”
Once the cards are returned, the town calculates each bill and then sends the customer a bill.
The water district bills people annually. The water budget totals around $1.8 million, but Koetzle said there are typically $300,000 to $400,000 in adjustments required during the process, due to incorrect meter readings, erroneous bill calculations and other issues.
The installation process will require a contractor to enter each dwelling or business to replace the meter. Koetzle said the timetable will depend on getting access to properties, but the town is “very hopeful” that the 2018 billing will use the new system.
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.
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Categories: News, Schenectady County