Mineral looks to amend budget, moves forward with water meter upgrades

The Mineral Town Council is moving their regular business meeting for November up a week to Nov. 2 to coincide with a scheduled public hearing to amend the 2020-21 budget and appropriate spending for the second half of the fiscal year.

The Mineral Town Council will hold a public hearing on Nov. 2 on the issue of amending the town’s budget to include money received from the federal CARES Act.

The town received an initial payment of $44,496 in June and began spending the money on improvements to the town offices and DMV select, including fiberglass shielding at the DMV desks, automatic soap dispensers and faucets for the bathrooms, and for masks and hand sanitizer for the staff. In October, the town received a second payment for the same amount for a total of $88,992. As of Oct. 13, the town still had more than $76,000 available to them. The funds must be used by Dec. 31.

The public hearing was scheduled to be held one week before the council’s regular November meeting to make those amendments to the budget and to appropriate spending for the second half of the fiscal year. Council voted later in the Oct. 13 meeting to move their next scheduled meeting up one week to be held the same night as the public hearing.

Council continued their discussion on Oct. 13 of purchasing new water meters. Mayor Pam Harlowe presented council members with a quote from Fortiline Waterworks in Richmond for a purchase of new radio-read water meters for the town, as well as software to eventually upgrade them to wireless meters that can be read from the town office. 

The plan is to initially read the meters by having a town employee drive around town and use the software to read the meters from the vehicle. Harlowe said that having people read the meters on-site will help spot leaks faster when they occur. 

The hope is that more accurate meter readings will lead to increased revenue from the town’s water bills. That money can then be put toward further repairs to the water system.

The total cost for the meters, software and labor for installation is just over $138,900, plus a cost of just over $2,000 per year to help keep the software up to date. The town hopes to use the remainder of the CARES money to cover part of the project cost. The remaining cost will be covered by money from the town’s water and sewer reserve funds. 

Harlowe said that the town plans to move forward with upgrading the water meters whether they can use the CARES money or not.

“We have to start somewhere,” she said.

A representative from Fortiline will be in attendance at the Nov. 2 meeting to answer any questions that council members have regarding the quote they provided. The hearing begins at 7 p.m.

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