Gloversville council to vote on $2.2M bond for water meters

STAN HUDY/LEADER-HERALD Exterior photo of Gloversville City Hall at 3 Frontage Road in Gloversville. Aug. 1, 2021.

The Gloversville Common Council is set to vote tonight on a $2.2 million bond to purchase 6,000 new water meters.

Councilman-at-Large William Rowback Jr. is the sponsor for the resolution to borrow the money for the new meters, and 1st Ward Councilwoman Marcia Weiss is the co-sponsor.

Rowback serves as the council liaison to the city’s independently-elected Water Board, which does not have the power to borrow money on its own. He said the new meters are needed.

“The last time we received any water meters was in 2010, and a few of them were faulty,” he said. “We’re roughly getting about 6,000 water meters, which will cover every resident of the city of Gloversville and the city water users in the Town of Johnstown.”

Gloversville Water Superintendent Anthony Mendetta said the faulty water meters were manufactured by Master Meter Co. and the new ones will be made by the Neptune Technology Group.

“[The Master Meter water meters] were supposed to come with a 20-year limited battery life, but what we’ve come across, which is similar to what most people, municipalities I’ve talked to, have seen is that the batteries were dying,” Mendetta said. “When the battery died it was only a digital reading with no manual backup, so what we’ve been having to do for the last five, six, seven years now is estimate people’s water bills based on prior usage.”

The city of Johnstown’s independently elected Water Board has also reported similar problems with Master Meter Co. meters. Johnstown’s Common Council in July approved $7.3 million worth of bonding for capital projects for its Water Board, which included $850,425 to hire Ti-Sales of Sudbury, Mass. to change out all the water meters in the city and replace them with Neptune meters.

Rowback said Gloversville was one of three municipalities in the state to receive an $850,000 clean water grant, which will help offset some of the cost of the bond.

Mendetta said the city has to borrow the money for the project up front, but the grant will help reimburse costs, bringing the total debt down to about $1.3 million. He said water rate payers will pay back all of the cost of the bond.

“To be clear, we’re billing all of our customers about $7 per billing cycle, which comes down to about $1 per month, and that charge will fund the $1.3 million in the bond,” he said.

Rowback said the new Neptune Meters will enable Water Department personnel to do remote reading of the meters without having to leave its office.

“So, they won’t have to have somebody riding around the city,” he said.

Rowback said there will also be a mobile internet device “app” which rate payers will be able to download onto their mobile devices enabling them to monitor and document their water usage in real time and detect any “instant leaks.”

“There will also be e-billing on there,” he said.

Mendetta said another good feature of the Neptune meters will be that they have an external power source, so Gloversville residents will never have to deal with the inconvenience of a city Water Department employee needing to access their homes to change out a water meter battery.

Mendetta said once the water meter replacement project begins he is hopeful all of the water meters can be changed out throughout the city within two years.

“We’re going to be hiring a company to do this, so we’re hopeful it will be quicker than that, but to be conservative, [assuming] cooperation with the customers and that stuff, we’re projecting it to be a two-year-project,” he said.

The Common Council is set to meet at 6 p.m. at city hall.

By Paul Wager