Council looking at water meter options for residents

In an effort to give residents other options besides the wireless water meters that Neptune has been installing

In an effort to give residents other options besides the wireless water meters that Neptune has been installing, town administration has put together a proposal of potential choices for residents.

Dave McPhee, director of operations and property services explained three different options to councillors during the Sept. 18 Committee of the Whole meeting.

The first option is the current idea to use the Neptune wireless water meters at no extra cost, explained McPhee. “That’s what the majority of the people are doing.”

The second proposed option is to put a similar meter in, but have it installed outside the house. McPhee says residents would face a $210 installation cost for this meter outside of the home. Town staff would be able use their current equipment to read the signal wirelessly.

A third option would be to install a meter outside of the home but staff would have to manually read the signal. McPhee says if a resident made that choice, they would have to pay the $210 for a meter plus a $75 monthly inspection fee.

“Seventy-five dollars is your cost-recovery rate for your manpower, equipment and administration fees,” explained McPhee.

He added if a resident refused to allow staff on their property, they would face a court order to allow staff to look at the meter. His hope was this would not have to occur considering a Sheriff would have to serve the notice.

Acting CAO Betty Quinlan says similar communities that are installing these water meters do not have an opt-out clause. One community does conduct manual inspections of gas meters, but only twice a year, she added. “You could be looking at thousands of dollars by the time they found a leak.”

“I don’t want this to be something that is picked up by the taxpayers of this town,” added Coun. Loanna Gulka.

She feels if residents choose another option, it should be full cost recovery rather than have taxpayers pick up the bill.

Letter claims to be from Freeman of the Land

The town has received a letter from a man purporting to be a Freeman of the Land and although the full contents and author of the letter were not made public, it has irked some councillors.

Coun. Tim Falkiner took a strong stance on the letter, which is believed to have threatened council with legal action and liens.

“You can’t pick and choose which part of the law you’re going to adhere to…If it was me, I’d cut off his water, I’d cut off his garbage, I’d cut off his sewer. To hell with him if he’s not going to contract with the town.”

Freemen of the Land adhere to rules that state statute law is something they will be governed by only if they agree to it. According to Wikipedia, Freemen of the Land consider themselves independent of government jurisdiction.

No decisions were made at the meeting and McPhee’s options were just proposals for councillors to consider. Coun. Teri Underhill did say the new system is working well as she received a call from town staff warning her toilet may be leaking. She said she was able to make the fix and save money on her water bill.

Clarification: On page two of the Sept. 24 Ponoka News edition, the Council looking at water meter options for residents states the proposed option would be to put a water meter outside; to clarify, it should be a water meter reader to be put outside. We regret the confusion.