Council debates billing schedule

High water bill for Armstrong resident leads council to contemplate quarterly billing period

A leaky toilet has Armstrong council debating the time frame for billing water and sewer utilities.

The city received a letter from a resident who received a water bill in the April 2017 billing period (bills are issued twice a year) that showed his metered water consumption at 2,450 cubic meters of water for the preceding six months. The volume of water measured as having flowed through his meter was 647,221 US gallons over the six-month billing period.

To put that into perspective, the swimming pool at Memorial Park has a capacity of 180,000 US gallons so the water that flowed through the resident’s meter could have filled the pool more than three-and-a-half times.

“A leaking toilet was the culprit,” wrote city chief financial officer Kevin Bertles in a report to council. The resident replaced the toilet and his latest bill reflected the change, as a reading of 424 cubic meters was obtained, which is a more reasonable level. The city met with the resident and council agreed to adjust the bill.

The incident led council to direct administration to formulate a leak adjustment policy in line with one used in the City of Kelowna.

It also sparked discussion about working toward quarterly billing periods for water and sewer facilities.

“I think we need to look at the costs of doing it quarterly, what it costs to read the meters and make out the bills,” said Coun. Gary Froats.

Added Coun. Paul Britton: “We’re not changing the current system, just working toward it.”

Council also unanimously agreed that all future water meters sold or replaced should be radio-read only, meaning meter readers can record findings electronically from a vehicle without having to walk up to read findings on the current touch-pad system.

roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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