City studies water meters
by Chance Wright
Feb 08, 2012 | 1153 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cleveland moved one step closer to making a decision on whether or not to obtain a new water meter system, which supposedly could recoup more revenue, during Tuesday's monthly board of aldermen meeting at the Cleveland City Hall building.

Chris McNeil, a representative from Siemens Water Technologies who first appeared before the board one year ago with the proposal, was once again on hand to answer any question or concerns from the board.

During that first encounter, the board authorized Siemens to come in and evaluate the current water system around the city.

“You guys (board) went through the process of selecting us to go in and evaluate how the city’s current water system is performing from a financial stand point by seeing how accurate the system is right now with the older meters,” said McNeil. "That study is complete and each of you have received a copy of the reports generated from that study."

“It was a good situation for the city,” said Cleveland Engineer Greg. “In their initial evaluation, they provided us a service at no cost.”

In its independent study, Siemens indicated that the city is losing several hundred thousand dollars on its collection of water bills due to older, inaccurate water meters.

Based on the report provided to the board about the annual losses, Siemens is proposing to go in and change every water meter in the city.

McNeil told the board on Tuesday that entailed over 6,000 meters.

The cost to put this new system into place is estimated to be right around $3.267 million.

The question posed by the majority of the board was; "Will the city recoup their investment?"

Alderman Kirkham Povall asked McNeil to e-mail him a list of cities that have implemented the system so that the board could contact them and see if they were getting back positive results on their system and how satisfied were they with it.

"I certainly have no problem doing that," said McNeil. "Up to this point we have not had any municipality who are losing money with the system."

McNeil said that by law Siemens has to look at that cost figure over a 15-year term and that the Mississippi Development Authority, the governing body who oversees any contract with the purpose of protecting municipalities, says that the system must pay for itself over the course of that 15-year period.

By the study provided to the board from Siemens, the new system should net the city at a minimum $620,000 in positive cash flow over the term of the loan.

According to McNeil that money is guaranteed to the city and if it were not matched over the term of the loan then Siemens would be responsible for the difference payable to the city.

Aldermen Robert Sanders and Maurice Smith were absent from Tuesday's meeting and Povall made a motion to table any decision until all members of the board were present before making a decision on what direction would be best for Cleveland.

The board, in turn, voted unanimously to agree.