Major Changes Ahead for Water Department – Special to the Independent

February 23, 2011
By

With the recent passing of the Water Department Enterprise Fund, Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr. is thrilled with the forward momentum surrounding the Water Department.  Along with the new accounting mechanism in the department, a pilot program for the new Commercial Water meters has started and the bid specifications for the entire new commercial water meter system is almost complete.

The Enterprise Fund, which recently found new support in the City Council and Board of Aldermen, will add greater accountability in the department.  The City Council as a whole was again called to a Joint Convention to discuss the FY11 Budget for the Enterprise Fund, in order for the fund to officially take effect on July 1, 2011.  With the fund, the City will have greater control of costs and effectively measure water usage, account for and prepare accurate bills and develop a cost effective plan for repairs and future infrastructure investments.

“As I’ve often said,” states Mayor DeMaria, “this fund is a great operational and accounting tool.  We’ll have greater control over the department and as the fund builds, we’ll be able to proactively improve our infrastructure.”  The Mayor also notes the creation of the fund will open up greater transparency in regards to what the City receives in water revenue and how much the City spends on repairs, department personnel and maintaining the water system.

Keeping a fluid transition, the Mayor is also keeping an eye on the new Commercial Water Meter program.  Mayor DeMaria is hoping full installation of the new commercial meters will begin by the summer.  A pilot program has recently begun where 10-20 commercial properties will receive new meters so the City can test for durability and ease the transition from the old system.  As the Mayor announced in his mid-term address, the new commercial water meter program will streamline all the commercial water meters in the city and once in place, will offer the city a chance to accurately bill commercial properties.  Mayor DeMaria estimates a balanced increase in commercial water revenue with the new system.

Under the old system, commercial property owners owned the water meter to the building.  This year, the city will take over ownership of the meters, including repair and maintenance.

“There are some properties where the meter could be old, non-working, or just need a simple repair,” states Mayor DeMaria, “with the new system and the new meters, all of our commercial property owners will receive accurate bills.  It’s a great system for all involved, commercial owners no longer have to maintain their meters and the City will maintain accurate revenue.”

Specifications for the entire Commercial Water Meter project are in the final stages, and the project will be advertised for bid in the coming months.