Water fund strong: Remote-read meters spike capital budget

Beyond debt payment and water distribution on the new Wapakoneta Water Treatment Plant, the city expects its next largest expenditure for 2012 to be the second phase of installing new water meters.

Wapakoneta City Council Finance Committee members reviewed the Water Fund Thursday as part of the annual budget process during a committee meeting at the Wapakoneta City Administration Building.

With $1.63 million expected in revenue, the budget anticipates total expenses at $2.5 million, with more than $525,000 being placed in reserve in a contingency line item. The cash carryover going into 2012 is $898,000.

Wapakoneta 3rd Ward Councilor and Committee Chair Bonnie Wurst said residents should not worry because the new budget process includes placing money into all line items and to maintain a contingency line item. She still anticipates a strong cash carryover for 2013.

“The Water Fund is in good shape and the account is balanced and is OK for next year,” Wurst told the Wapakoneta Daily News after Thursday’s meeting. “People will see a slight percentage increase in their water bill in February and they will see an increase in the amount they pay to the Long-Term Control Plan, but that is part of the sanitary sewer budget.

“The biggest expense — beyond chemicals, debt payment and water distribution — will be the installation of the remote-read water meters,” she said. “This benefits the city and local residents because it takes fewer employee hours to read them from the street rather than going on a resident’s property.”

She said employees can then spend time on other projects. She also noted residents also “will not have to worry about seeing a stranger walking onto their property to read the meter.”

Safety-Service Director Bill Rains explained the city intends to spend $200,000 for installing a second round of remote-read water meters and water meter installation in the city. The changeover should be completed at the end of 2013.

“All the new water meters and the electric meters being installed are remote read so we can drive down the street and read the meters,” Rains said. “What typically took us a week, we can now read the meters in a couple of days and I am hoping we can cut that down to one day. We will be able to determine use on a weekly basis if we have to at times during the year to gather additional information regarding use.”

He explained they may read meters once a week during the hottest month, such as July or August, and during a spring or fall month to determine how usage changes so they can better serve city residents.

A weekly periodic reading also may alert city crews to possible line breaks or leakage in the water system.    

The other capital improvement project set for 2012 is extending the Canning Factory Road fresh water line from the plant to Willipie Street at a cost of $174,000.

The line would provide a second water line to the West Central Ohio Industrial Center.

The next budget meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. Jan. 26. The budget must be passed by April 1.