The Mountain Home City Council Thursday approved the issuance of $3 million in revenue bonds to finance costs associated with the replacing of about 7,300 water meters in the city with up-to-date meters which will be capable of remotely reporting water usage and will measure usage more accurately than is true with current meters.
During prior discussions on changing the water meters in the city, it was pointed out that the city currently suffers a 25 percent water loss due to the fact that the current, low tech meters do not correctly read usage for a variety of reasons.
Water loss is determined by measuring water produced and the amount for which the city bills customers. If the modern meters result in a 10 percent water savings, it could mean an additional $600,000 in revenue over a year's time which would pay for the new meters in a five year time span.
It will take about a year to install the new meters and associated equipment.
At an earlier meeting, the council waived competitive bidding on the new water meter purchase after Alma Clark, director of the Mountain Home Water/Sewer Department, told the council that a great deal of research had gone into companies that produce "smart meters" and it had been determined that equipment from Sensus/AMI had a significant number of advantages over competitors. She told the council at the earlier meeting that no other equipment fit what Mountain Home needed as closely as Sensus/AMI.
In addition to accelerating the approval process by moving through all three readings of the bond ordinance in one meeting, the council also voted to attach the emergency clause. It was pointed out that the emergency clause was necessary since the bond purchase agreement needed to be signed after the meeting Thursday in order to lock in a two percent interest rate obtained by the underwriter. The bond issue carries a five year pay out period and an early pay out is permitted with no penalty.
At one point, the purchase of the water meters and upgrades to the water treatment plant were to be considered basically as a package, but bids on the treatment plant improvements all came in above estimates and plans for those upgrades are currently under review.
The council adopted a resolution urging the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to take immediate action to access all available funds to pay the costs associated with leachate removal from the defunct NABORS landfill. Mayor David Osmon said ADEQ had informed him that money to address the landfill problems would be available prior to September 1. Alderman Joe Dillard said he was worried about potential environmental damage that might be done now that leachate is no longer being collected at the site. Dillard said the purpose of the resolution was to encourage ADEQ to expedite the process as much as possible before damage was done to lakes, rivers and wells in the area.
There was some discussion about keeping the city swimming pool open for limited hours until Labor Day. The pool is currently set to close August 17. Alderman Bob Devecki said the Parks and Recreation Committee had discussed operating the pool from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., primarily to accommodate a senior citizen workout class that utilizes the pool. Mayor Osmon said he did not believe the council should micromanage the hours of operation of city facilities and that it should be left to the director of the Parks and Recreation Department. The council took no action on the limited hours proposal.
Alderman Devecki reported that the city's Advertising and Promotion Commission had collected $58,795 from the two percent hotel-motel tax through the end of last month. It has been estimated that the tax could bring in $80,000 or more annually, depending on the level of visitation to the area. The commission has participated in funding a number of events which have brought a large number of visitors to the city.
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