By CHRIS MENEES
South Fulton is heading into the future with meter-reading technology.
The South Fulton City Commission granted approval Thursday night for the city’s public works director to proceed with the bid process for a utility meter replacement program.
The city commission last year had approved a meter changeout program and the allocation of start-up funds. South Fulton Public Works director Wesley Joyner updated commissioners Thursday night about the AMR — automatic meter reading — system being proposed for the city.
AMR is the computer technology of automatically collecting consumption, diagnostic and status data from water or gas meters and transferring that data to a central database for billing, troubleshooting and analyzing. The technology will save the city the manpower required by trips to physical locations to read meters and will also help both the city and customers more accurately monitor consumption.
The AMR technology will link with the city’s utility billing software, according to Joyner, who said the technology will result in an all-around savings to the city. He said it currently takes two people 11 days each month to read the city’s utility meters.
South Fulton city manager Debra Craig said the cost last year was estimated at $100 per meter for the city’s 1,800 meters, but what is now being proposed with the AMR system has a longer life and is more up to date with technology. She said the $36,000 allocated will start the process.
Joyner said water meters with the new technology will cost about $160 each if the entire meter has to be replaced, the worst case scenario, and they come with a 20-year warranty. The gas meters would run about $75 each for full replacement.
City commissioner Scott Ellegood said he believes the meter replacement is a good idea, adding, “Electronic is the way to go.”
South Fulton Mayor Ed Cassetty said he has a friend who works with meter reading in Union City and he loves the new electronic meter-reading technology now being utilized by many cities and utility companies. Joyner said the technology has been around for 15 or 20 years and is the trend of the future, with the old-style meters — like those currently used by the city — becoming more obsolete for the replacement of units or parts.
Joyner said with the $36,000 previously allocated, the city needs to start the bid process for the meter replacement by June 30, the end of the current fiscal year. He said the city will have to decide how many years to stretch out the replacement program and proceed from there. Cassetty said the city can move at its own pace with what is allocated annually.
The move to the AMR technology will include the purchase of computers and software for a vehicle and City Hall, as well as training for staff. Joyner said many of the versions available also offer maintenance packages.
The commission voted 5-0 to allow Joyner to begin the bid process for a program to change out the city’s water and gas meters.
In other action during Thursday night’s 40-minute meeting, opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and with prayer led by commissioner Tony Perry, SF’s city commission:
• Approved a request for the city to provide the matching funds for a U.S. Justice Department grant for body armor for the city’s police department, as well as a related resolution adopting an official body armor policy for police personnel.
South Fulton Police Department Capt. David Lamb said he applied this year for six bullet-proof vests at a total cost of about $4,800, meaning the city’s portion of the grant will be only up to $2,400. He said he just needs two or three vests now and has up to two years to spend the remaining funds allotted by the grant.
• Learned a contract between the city and A2H — Askew Hargraves Harcourt & Associates Inc., a full-service firm of engineers, architects, planners, landscape architects and land surveyors — has been submitted for the city’s park project.
In addition, community leader Jeff Campbell has submitted a commitment letter to the city to officially confirm his commitment to fund the $250,000 in local funds required for the grant match for the park project. The Local Parks and Recreation Fund Grant is a 50/50 matching grant available through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
• Was informed by Cassetty that he is enjoying having a mayor’s office in the city’s municipal complex and has been fielding concerns from residents about problems with grass cutting and cats roaming at large. He said he recently spoke with Fulton city manager Cubb Stokes and learned neighboring Fulton is having those same problems.
• Learned South Fulton is now assisting with the Ken-Tenn Food Bank program and has a delivery and pickup location at the back of the city’s municipal building the first Saturday of each month. Cassetty said there is a registration process which must be completed by those in need of assistance.
• Was informed installation of the city’s new billing software should be completed this month.
• Learned the city’s 2011-12 audit was conducted last week, with the field work now done, according to Mrs. Craig.
• Was asked to consider the scheduling of budget hearings the second week in June as work begins on the city’s 2013-14 budget.
• Commended police officer Rusty Singleton for recently completing certification for an investigations school.
• Was reminded city offices will be closed May 27 in observance of Memorial Day.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 5.17.13