By danny restivo
City council delayed a vote that, if passed, would allow for installation of new water meters throughout the city.
Before reading an ordinance that authorized the public service director to enter into a $1.5 million contract with Cincinnati-based Neptune Equipment Co., council members decided not to vote during their Monday night meeting.
At a finance committee meeting before the council session, city Auditor Sam Zirafi recommended that lawmakers make sure all details of the contract with Neptune were clarified before approving the ordinance.
Lou Adovasio, councilman at-large and chairman of the utilities commission, said council members still plan on passing the legislation, but once details about financing and installation time frames are clarified, they will be ready to vote.
While Adovasio and other council members believe the meters are a positive move for the city, Mayor James Melfi thinks the meters are a financial risk for a city that was released from fiscal oversight in June.
He cites the purchase of the Girard Lakes and the $242,000 a year the city must pay for them as a reason to be cautious.
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.
“Thirty-six months isn’t a long time,” the mayor said. “You don’t buy a new car when the old one isn’t paid off yet.”
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.
The remote water meters would allow city workers to access the water readings on a laptop computer without entering the home.
Adovasio said he is going to meet with the city services director in the next week to get all the details straight so council can approve legislation at its next meeting.
He believes the new meters will pay for themselves.
“It’s going to help us save money and improve efficiency on the water meters,” Adovasio added.
The next council meeting is at 7 p.m. Dec. 10.