The City of Smithville is taking advantage of a USDA Rural Development Grant/Loan for the purchase and installation of a new automated water meter reading project.
Under the program, the city has been approved for a total of $410,000 in funding including a $95,000 grant and a $315,000 loan for the project. The city will have to repay the loan. The aldermen, Monday night, adopted a bond resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of bonds up to $315,000 at an interest rate not to exceed 2.75% per annum. The bonds shall be payable over a term not to exceed twenty years. The bonds shall be revenue and tax deficiency general obligation bonds of the City of Smithville and will be payable from revenues derived from the City's water and sewer system.
The new equipment will be installed on the existing water system but will replace the current manual read meters and include leak detecting encoding and a radio frequency transmitter. The new equipment will send a radio signal that can be read from outside by simply driving along the streets within the service area. The project will allow the city to make meter reading more efficient and billing more accurate.
"The grant/loan will free up our two meter readers that currently spend six to seven days reading meters and allow them to spend more time helping with other public works needs," said City Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson. "With the new automated system our entire water meter system can be read within one days time and without getting out of the vehicle which increases safety as well. Although it's a 20 year loan I believe the city should be able to repay the entire sum within three to five years. Plus the city will receive $95,000 towards this project as a grant that does not have to be repaid," said Hendrixson.
During a city council meeting in February 2010, Will Taylor of the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts, addressed the mayor and aldermen on this issue. According to Taylor, benefits to the city by having an automated meter reading system are that it would reduce water loss by an estimated seven to fifteen percent and cut costs associated with the current manner of reading meters.
Many utilities are now using Automated Meter Readers as a way of improving customer service while reducing the cost of reading meters. With this process, one driver in a vehicle is able to read more meters in one day. At the end of the day, the meter reader unloads the information to the city's billing system.