McMinnville Water Department has hit a warranty snag while replacing water meters.
“These are our cash registers,” said Water Department director Anthony Pelham, holding up an electronic water meter that measures how much water each customer uses. “I’m entrenched in making sure they are accurate. This is the item that we’ve been working on, the warranty replacement of, but in sending our returns back, we’ve gotten into a conflict with the actual providing company.”
In 2006, the city entered into a contract with Volunteer Utility Sales for electronic, radio-read water meters at a cost of $1.1 million. The meters were supposed to more accurately read water use and capture enough revenue to pay for themselves. However, they did not. The department systematically replaced those before the warranty period expired.
Pelham says the new meters are working well.
“The good news is all the new meters are in the ground and they are performing better than they have in years,” he said. “We read a little over 6,200 water meters a month and now we read them in a little less than three days. That’s one guy in a truck, with a laptop and radio receiver. It used to be two guys and it would take 20 days a month.
The information was presented to members of the city Water and Sewer Committee with Pelham saying he’s in disagreement with Volunteer Utility Sales about the city’s refund.
“I would call it a bit of a discrepancy in the returns and the credits they’ve given us back,” said Pelham. “I would ask, simply, that the committee allow me to speak to the company and present our opinion and facts and allow them to present their opinion and facts on the returns to make sure we have all the information laid out clearly between us on the claims and them on the returns and then bring that information back to the board. Because this is a potential financial matter, I’m asking permission to do that, to pursue a fact-finding mission and bring it back.”
The measure will be sent to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for its approval.