City council hears update on water meter problem
• Mayor’s Report and others
September 25, 2020
According to a report at the Alva City Council meeting Monday night, the city is getting some new water meter heads to repair those no longer providing remote reading. Councilmember Daniel Winters said the Water/Wastewater Committee met and discussed the problem. Since the city replaced water meters so they can be read from a vehicle driving by, about 300 of the heads have failed. These are not the entire meter but just the head that provides the remote reading. The meters were still recording the amount of water used.
Winters and City Business Manager Angelica Brady explained this led to some water meters not being read over several months. When the zero readings were finally noticed, those residents suddenly received much larger bills to make up the difference.
The remote meters are read in one drive-by. A second round picks up those missed, and a third round is made to manually read those that will not give a remote reading.
The meter heads are under warranty and could be replaced at no charge. However, Ferguson (the company selling the meters) has offered the newest model at a steep discount. The advantage of the newer model is that the battery is not activated until the meter is put into service so it can sit on the shelf until needed. The older model’s battery has already been activated when it is received by the city.
Normally, the newer model heads are about $60 to $70, but Ferguson is offering them for about $20 each to replace the older models under warranty. The higher cost for the meter heads will be less than the current cost for workers to manually read the meter heads. The committee believes the newer model is the way to go so the city has ordered those. Brady said they should be arriving late this week. If the city had gone with the older model, there would have been a six to eight week delay in manufacturing and shipping.
The city had also applied for a CDBG grant involving offset water wells, but that grant was denied.
Airport Manager Applicants
Mayor Kelly Parker reported the Alva Airport Commission discussed qualifications for hiring a new airport manager during their meeting Sept. 14. He said the city has received applications from three good candidates. The commission was to hold a special meeting Sept. 24 to go over the applications and hopefully make an offer to the applicant.
Alva Cemetery Board Chairman Lenny Reed reported a special meeting was held to give approval for the flag retirement ceremony held on Sept. 11 at the cemetery. The American Legion and Boys Scouts Troop 392 plan to make this a regular event.
He said that Greg and James Dyer-Smith organized a group of volunteers to mow and edge at the cemetery. Usually the city enlists the help of work crews from Bill Johnson Correctional Center for such work but they are unavailable due to the coronavirus restrictions.
Reed said the cemetery board is trying to decide what to do about stickers growing wild in Section B. He said unfortunately the style of mowing being used is transferring those stickers to other sections. “So don’t go barefoot in the cemetery,” he said smiling.
Mayor Parker mentioned that he needs to make some appointments to the cemetery board and if the board would consider changing the meeting time, it might be easier to find people willing to take those positions. Reed said, “You’ll have no problem with me.” He agreed 8 a.m. meetings are difficult.
Dr. Bo Hannaford, Finance Committee chairman, reviewed several large claims including bulk fuel purchases of $10,721.47, hotel tax fund $4,500 for way-finding signage, $8,892.80 for Jet A fuel at the airport, and debt services of $45,827.69 from the Alva Utility Authority fund.
Cash on hand at the end of August was $370,000. “I think we owe a big thanks to our city manager and our supervisors and all our workers,” he said, “because if you remember not too long ago that was $20,000 or $30,000.”
The city is setting aside five percent of sales tax collections to pay off the money borrowed from the airport fund. The city has a little less than $1.6 million in investments.
Hannaford said the city collected $358,000 in sales tax which was up about 1.5 percent from the previous month and up about ten percent from the same time last year.
The finance committee talked about infrastructure and discussed applying for some REAP grants, maybe for the meter heads or some other infrastructure ideas.
The city received approval for CARES funding and is waiting on the check for $381,778 that will go into the general fund to reimburse some of the expenses related to COVID-19.
Swimming Pool Task Force Update
Mayor Parker introduced Pool Task Force Chairman Paul Barton to provide an update. Parker said the task force is continuing to meet and has sought engineers to help evaluate the condition of the swimming pool and devise a plan moving forward. He said to pay for the engineer the task force sought and received a grant from Share Trust for over $22,000.
Barton read the scope of work expected from the engineer inspecting the pool. The very detailed list describes inspections of the pool shell, filtration equipment and pump house as well as the pool bathhouse.
Once the engineering contract is awarded, Barton estimates six to eight weeks to get the assessment back.
Parker said council action is not required since the amount is under the $25,000 spending limit approved for the city business manager. However, the council will eventually have to make a budget amendment on the Share Trust grant and the expenditure.
The mayor said he and Brady along with others from Alva met with Brent Kisling and Stan Ralstin with state commerce and economic development interests. They came to visit businesses in Alva that had received stimulus funds from the state. These included Value Added Products, Peak Environment and the Rialto Theatre.
“It was a pretty encouraging afternoon,” he said, “considering that all three of those businesses had suffered catastrophic, almost, losses right after the coronavirus hit.” Parker said VAP may be in a position to add some 30 or 40 jobs in the community in January with another shift. Peak is looking at different opportunities to expand, and Rialto is just anxiously waiting for the motion picture industry to start putting movies out again.
He thanked Joe Parsons for organizing and carrying out a clean-up effort in downtown Alva last weekend. He said there’s a Facebook page called Beautify Alva where he will be posting updates on when they will be working. “I encourage everyone in town to take a look at that,” Parker said. “If you’re able to help out, I’m sure your help will be greatly appreciated.”
The mayor recently spoke to Dr. Simon’s leadership class at Alva High School, a group of seniors concurrently enrolled in classes at NWOSU. He spoke not only about leadership but also the opportunities to serve their community such as being on the city council.
He also spoke to Dr. Janet Cunningham’s president’s leadership class at NWOSU as well as a new group of collegiate independents.
Parker said he’s had a number of citizen requests. Several people have asked about improvements at Bud Rose Park. The city has some Bank It donations and is accepting other donations for that project. No improvements to the park have been included in this year’s budget.
“I want to say, and this is a massive understatement, the sanitation department has worked extra to ensure that even though we’ve had some equipment issues, we didn’t have a reduction in service,” said Parker.
“I think our sanitation workers take a great amount of pride in what they do,” he continued. “I’m very proud of the amount of praise our community gives our sanitation workers. I think it is well deserved. Hopefully soon I look forward to getting them the equipment they need to continue their service of the community.”
Others asked for an update on the safety of Alva’s water. “The safety of our water is good. Our water is safe to drink,” said Parker. He said the consumer confidence reports are posted on the city’s website (alvaok.org) under Public Works by clicking on the water/wastewater department.
“We have literally invested millions of dollars in our water infrastructure since our water rates were adjusted in 2016,” he said. The projects include water treatment facilities, water storage facilities, line replacement and repairs, wastewater systems and more. There are more projects under consideration for the remainder of the city’s 2018 revenue bonds.
On a question about zoning requests, Parker said zoning requirements have not changed. No requests for zoning changes have been received for quite some time.
In conclusion, Parker said he will need to make a number of appointments to boards and commission. The process got a little behind during transitions in the business manager’s office. He said the city has an application form available that can be submitted to city hall or those interested in serving may contact him directly.
A video of the entire city council meeting may be seen at http://www.AlvaReviewCourier.com.