ESSEX - Essex town officials had decided they would use water usage to determine how much to charge residents when the first round of billing came out for the new wastewater sewer system.
But what if the meters are not working?
The town board discussed options concerning what to do during its Jan. 13 meeting, after hearing that 30 percent of the new water meters were not yet in place and concerns over if the meters would work properly.
"The ones that are not done are where lines have been drained because the people are gone for the winter," said town employee Emett "John" Coonrod. "I have some houses where the meters are now are on the kitchen floor so you have to go in and get permission to replace them."
Coonrod also said he was concerned that some of the new meters may not have been installed properly, and may not work until they are fixed.
Town supervisor Sharon Boisen said with the new meters not an option to help look at water usage and calculate a sewer bill, the town would need to come up with a flat rate in order to start paying off a loan used to help build the system.
"We will have to do something because we have a loan that we have to pay back starting in June," Boisen said. "It will have to be a flat rate bill because we are not going to be able to read all of the meters because they are not all working."
"How can we bill them for something when we are not providing them with any service yet," questioned town councilman James LaForrest.
"When a district is formed, the billing does sometimes begin before the service until the system can start to pay for itself," said Boisen. "We are still looking into some things, but we think that this is the way we can go."
Boisen said the first billing would be for the amount of $534,10, which was calculated when the project first started.
"We do not have much in operating costs this year, so we are mainly looking at paying back the loan with this payment," she said.
Boisen also said the town was waiting to hear about two properties that had yet to provide easements for the running of the main sewer line.
The town board also welcomed its newest member Jan. 13, as Harold MacDougal was sworn in as a member of the board, replacing Stephen Sayward, who now serves as town justice.
"I was on the planning board for 10 years and was thinking about doing this," MacDougal said about his interest in joining the board. "I have run for the position before, and I had planned on doing it again before this came up."
MacDougal was joined by Scott Hurlburt, Olive Alexander and Jeff Benway as persons who submitted an application for the position.