Chattahoochee city council members were somewhat less united Tuesday evening on the idea of replacing their old gas, water and electric meters with a new electronic digital meter system. After much discussion by the council and members of the public, the council decided to wait and hold another workshop instead. A representative of Devtech Sales Inc. of Avon Park, Steve Baltzley, left the meeting very disappointed.
A motion to hire the firm with a $667,930 contract by council member Ken Kimrey failed for the lack of a second by any other council member. The cost would be a lease purchase of the system at $81,580 annually for a 10-year term starting on March 2020.
City Manager Robert Presnell was all for the project. “This would be a much more efficient way for the city to read meters, and it would be no strain on the city budget,” he explained to the council. “You already have $40,000 in the budget to purchase meters.” Presnell and Baltzley, in his presentation, explained that the present meters are too old and are costing the city money in lost revenues due to “meter drag.” Council member Ann Richardson described it as “being stuck in the 1800s.”
“We’ve learned that you shouldn’t use meters that are more than five years old,” Presnell said. “We have meters that have been used for 20 years. Meter drag is costing the city at least $8,600 per year.” Baltzley put that loss figure at about $30,000 per year. The manager recommended that the city go to an electronic digital system. Baltzley said the new meters would have an accuracy rate of 99 percent.