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Tallmadge -- The city's transition to new radio-read water meters is speeding up with plans to buy nearly 500 this year.
As part of an informal trial program over the last two years, the city installed new meters at about 2 percent of the households and businesses that tap into the city's water system.
The city's 2013 budget allows $60,000 from the water fund to be spent on new meters that cost about $125 each, according to Kline. The cost to replace all of the old meters throughout the city is about $800,000, he said.
He said it's his goal to have city workers install the new meters sometime this year.
Kline said he expects the transition to gain even more momentum over the next two years, and the number the city buys each year will depend on the budget. Letters will be mailed to residents and businesses before the old meters are swapped.
The city's switch to the new system promotes efficiency among the water department's staff, Kline said. Workers in the water and sewer department divide the city into four or five zones when reading the meters. Every month, one worker scans the meters with a handheld device from about 8 inches away.
"With the radio read, you can sit in a vehicle with a laptop and read the entire district within an hour or two, versus having a guy walk up and down the roadway, hitting every meter," Kline said.
The new meters can be read from up to 1/4 mile from the laptop, he said.
Because of the increased efficiency, the water and sewer department can operate on fewer workers. Kline said there are no plans to adjust the staffing levels in the department and noted the city hasn't replaced an employee who retired about a year ago.
While most city water customers are billed quarterly with one month's bill reflecting exact water consumption and the other two months estimates, they have the option of being billed monthly. The city's goal is to switch all customers to monthly billing that's more accurate, which Kline believes people will prefer.