The Strasburg Town Council is set in a work session today to discuss the possibility of contracting out the work of replacing its water meters replacements to Suez AMI.
But a contract — with Suez AMI or any other company — is a long way down the road, Town Manager Wyatt Pearson said.
“I’m not even certain it would be in the next budget year,” Pearson said. “We really haven’t gotten down to nailing down what that would look like.”
Instead, Pearson said, the town is hoping that they can get a sense out of today’s meeting whether the Town Council would be interested in pursuing a contract to replace the town’s water meters.
“We’re really right now talking to council about whether this is a service we want to consider,” Pearson said.
Once the town staff figures out whether a contract is worth pursuing, the town will go through a procurement process to seek out potential contracts, Pearson said.
Changing the town’s water meters could be a costly endeavor. When Woodstock switched out meters, purchasing the new meters cost over $1 million, Pearson said.
The town discussed the cost of a deal with Suez during an April 30 work session, but that discussion occurred in a closed session so it is unclear how much a contract would cost the town.
But in a previous work session, members of the town staff and representatives for Suez described an outdated water meter model that needs updating.
On Wednesday, Pearson said that the town has been updating its water system “piecemeal,” replacing meters one-by-one.
“What ends up happening is you don’t have enough dollars to buy a full group of meters, and you don’t have enough staff to install them all at once,” Pearson said.
Without a contract, Pearson said, it can take a long time for the town to upgrade its meters.
“It’s taken us so long to try to make that switch that the original group that we put in is already coming out,” Pearson said.
That’s where a contract with a private company comes in.
“[A private company like Suez] has large purchasing power when it comes to working with these meter companies, as well as the ability to subcontract the work out and get multiple dedicated crews in to perform the installation over a short period of time,” Pearson said.