07/26/06 — Council OKs bid for automated meter reading system

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Council OKs bid for automated meter reading system

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on July 26, 2006 1:51 PM

Soon, meter readers walking through the yards of Goldsboro residents will be mere memories, officials said.

City Council members unanimously approved a motion from the Finance Department Monday, officially awarding the bid for equipment and training associated with an upgrade to an Automatic Meter Reading System to Datamatic Ltd., a Texas-based company.

The roughly $1.6 million bid includes retrofitting meters throughout the city, installation of the AMR system and training city staff to use the equipment.

Finance Director Richard Durham said the selection of Datamatic's AMR system is in the city's best interest for many reasons. Under the current system, city employees are required to read all the meters in Goldsboro manually, he said, a task that can be daunting and time-consuming.

"We currently have water meters at all locations throughout the city," Durham said.

The upgraded AMR system will eliminate the need for meter readers to go house-to-house and business-to-business, Durham added. Instead, staff will be trained to read water consumption levels via radio frequency. So, instead of "meter readers walking through yards," they will simply drive down the street and check water consumption numbers from the truck, he said.

The AMR system can also detect irregularities in consumption levels, Durham said, a feature that will help staff determine whether there are leaks without having to dig. Ultimately, the ability to catch leaks early saves money, time and hassle for the user, he added.

"The new system will be much more efficient," Durham said.

There are other savings associated with the change also, he added. Durham told council members he estimates the AMR system will save the city more than $120,000 in the first year it is used -- money that would normally be spent paying for the long hours of work associated with the current system of manually reading the meters.

By approving the motion, council authorized the Finance Department to accept the $1.6 million bid and pursue a long-term financing plan for the system. Durham said the funding would most likely come from a 15-year financing plan, contingent upon the approval of the Local Government Commission.