McMinnville will be hiring a full-time Water Department director in the near future after being encouraged to do so by interim city administrator Bill Brock, who says the department has issues that need to be addressed.
“We need someone in that department who can dedicate eight hours a day to it,” said Brock. “I can’t do that. My time is spread out to other things. I’m not doing it justice with an hour or two a day.”
Also McMinnville Public Works director, Brock has been director over the Water Department since September 2010 and was named interim city administrator last month. Brock says a water revenue problem has come to light that needs more attention than he can give.
“Back when I first took this over, I looked at personnel issues and got those out of the way,” said Brock. “Then, we started looking at infrastructure and we’ve got that in good hands right now. Then, we started looking at water – the water we were producing at the plant and the water we were selling to the customer. The numbers were not adding up. We couldn’t figure out why. We thought we had some leaks. All systems have leaks, so we started looking for them.”
A few leaks were found but nothing that could account for a $300,000 annual difference between what the department was producing in water and what it was selling to customer. Brock says the focus turned to the electronic meters.
“We always blamed our meters for all our problems, so we started looking at meters once again,” he said. “About February, we began to look at the numbers and looking for any problem anywhere in the system. Some things started turning up. Things were not being figured correctly. It wasn’t the fault of any one person. It was the way they were told to figure it and it was incorrect. We corrected some of those and we are still looking for others.”
The biggest issue found to date is the incorrect calculation of meters in businesses that have more than one meter.
“Of what we’ve found so far, the biggest culprit on lost revenue are businesses that have multi-meters,” said Brock. “Some businesses have master meters that will read their entire water bill and then, they will have other meters going to particular equipment that does not use the sewer system. They get credit for sewer only back to their master meter. The calculations are not being figured correctly. It’s a computer problem. We were giving them more credit than they should have been getting over the years.”
Brock has ordered department employees to conduct a comprehensive inventory of the city’s 6,000 meters and a full-time director can use the information to locate all the problems and correct them.
Water and Sewer Committee members Jimmy Bonner, chairman, Billy Wood and Mike Neal accepted the recommendation and the city will begin the process to find a new Water Department director.
A full job description is available on the city’s website at www.mcminnvilletenn.com, as well as how to apply. The salary range is $45,801 to $85,092.