By the end of next year, the city of Galt could be wrapping up a major water meter retrofitting project, with customers paying for what they use.
At Monday’s City Council meeting, council members unanimously agreed to move forward with an alternative plan that would put one agency in charge of furnishing, installing, financing, testing and putting into place the entire water meter program. It would cost about $416,000 per year over the next 15 years, which includes overseeing software that reads the meters.
This would meet a state mandate stating that municipalities must begin charging all customers for water consumption using meters by 2024.
“Doing this in six months is not unreasonable,” said Interim Public Works Director Richard Prima, who assembled a similar program in Lodi. “This is what is best for Galt. But there are some issues we need to deal with, like how to pay for it.”
The annual cost could be absorbed by the city’s water utility department, or customers could be charged a meter fee. A decision has not been made.
Galt has already collected approximately $1.6 million from residential developers to pay for future water meters. An additional $3.9 million is necessary, according to the Public Works Department.
Since 2005, about 500 meters have already been installed by developers. Those customers are being charged based on their usage.
Under the plan discussed Monday, a computer network would be used to read current and future water meters.
Mayor Barbara Payne said earlier this year that she is anxious to move forward with installing the water meters, and hopes it will be on a new director’s list of top priorities.
Steve Winkler was hired as the new public works director late last month. His first day is Monday.
In February, Prima said the city had fallen behind in installing water meters due to staffing changes and previous council decisions.
At the time, city manager Jason Behrmann said the delay came down to city priorities. Other public works projects have either recently been completed or are under construction, including the Central Galt Interchange Project, Walker Park, wastewater treatment plant upgrades and the Twin Cities roundabouts.
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