Girard council may override mayor's decision on water meters

By Danny restivo


City council is set to vote on overriding a mayoral veto during a special meeting Wednesday night.

If the decision is approved, council will require the services director to have radio-frequency water meters installed throughout the city.

On Dec. 12, council adopted an ordinance for the administration to enter into a contract with Cincinnati-based Neptune Equipment Co. The legislation was approved by a 5-1 vote with one member absent but was followed by a veto from Mayor James Melfi.

Council will need five of seven votes Wednesday to override his decision.

Melfi believes the $1.53 million investment is the same type of aggressive spending that sent the city into fiscal emergency in 2001.

Girard was released from state financial oversight in June, but Melfi points to the $242,000 a year the city must pay for the Girard Lakes. Girard purchased the lakes in 1995, and will have doled out $4.9 million by the time they are paid off in 2015. Melfi, who was elected five years after the lakes’ purchase, believes the money going toward the lakes can be redirected toward the water-meter project then.

Lou Adovasio, councilman at-large and chairman of the utilities committee, believes the city can finance the project now and defer the payments to 2015 when the lakes are paid off. He said he thinks the new water meters will pay for themselves because the current methods of metering water sales aren’t gathering accurate readings.

Currently, the city’s residential water meters are inside homes and must be read manually by city employees. When a resident isn’t home, the water department relies on the homeowner to provide a reading that is either mailed in or called in. When residents don’t give a two-month report of their meter, the city estimates the cost based on previous usage.

Adovasio said he was confident of a vote that will overturn the mayor’s decision and force the signing of the contract by the services director.

“I have not yet heard of anybody changing their mind,” he said.

Council is set to meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the second floor of the city justice center.

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