STRASBURG — Water bills could get higher for some residents in coming months, and Town officials plan to hold a public hearing this fall to discuss the matter.
At a meeting on Thursday, members of the town’s Infrastructure Committee discussed a project that will replace water meters around town with smart water meters.
The new meters will better account for how much water a home or business is using, said Jay McKinley, director of public works. But that could also mean that people with meters that are 10 years old and haven’t been accurately measuring water use could see higher bills.
McKinley anticipates residents might see a 5-10% increase in their bills, as a result.
Still, the rate could be less than some residents have been seeing with intermittent spiking, said Committee member and Town Councilman John Massoud.
“The spiking is awful,” he commented, saying he’s heard complaints from residents who have encountered spikes. “The water bills are too high.”
The smart meter system should even out bills, McKinley said. Essentially, he said, the town will be able to bill by the gallon, which eliminates a spike caused when a household moves into a higher range of water use.
More accurate bills also mean the town can “recapture” lost revenue caused by slow meters, helping the town pay for the smart meter system over several years.
The project will cost around $1 million, Town Manager Wyatt Pearson estimated, but he said the town could potentially pay off the investment in about five years.
McKinley said customers will be able to view their water use on a customer portal online.
“Once you see the customer portal and the features, it’s pretty impressive,” McKinley said.
Massoud stressed the need for a public hearing to inform residents on how their water bills might change. He said the public hearing will likely take place at a Town Council work session in late October or early November, and that the town will advertise the date to give residents enough notice.
Town Council’s next work session will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, at 174 E. King St.
Attending the meeting were Town Manager Wyatt Pearson, Director of Public Works Jay McKinley and Infrastructure Committee members John Massoud, Ken Cherrix, Jocelyn Vena and Kim Bishop.