TICONDEROGA - The town of Ticonderoga has been awarded a $4.17 million grant to install water meters throughout the community.
Will trustees accept the gift?
A public hearing on the issue will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, immediately before the regular town board meeting in the Community Building.
"I'm anxious to hear what the public has to say," Supervisor Bob Dedrick said. "Anytime there is a change people are apprehensive. Nobody wants to pay more for water, that's understandable.
"But the bottom line, to me, is fairness," he continued. "The fairest way to charge for any utility is to charge a person for what they use."
Dedrick said he was notified by the state that Ti has been awarded the grant money through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The stimulus money, if accepted, will pay for the installation of water meters at all residential and commercial locations in the community.
The grant expires Dec. 31, which means the Ti town board must decided to accept the money and have a contract in place for the project by the end of the year.
Water customers in Ti now pay $322 a year. If meters are installed, Dedrick explained, a per gallon rate will be established and customers will be billed only for the water they actually use.
That per gallon rate will not be determined for a while.
"We'll continue on the flat rate system for a period of time (after meters are installed)," Dedrick said. "Once actual usage is determined, a rate system will be established."
Dedrick said it's likely some people will pay less and others more for their water if meters are installed.
"I've had a lot of people the past few years, especially older people, who complain the flat rate system isn't fair," he said. "They're right. An elderly couple probably uses a lot less water than a family of six."
Meters would also encourage people to make home repairs to leaky faucets and running toilets, the supervisor noted, which would conserve water.
Dedrick said the meters would not cost the town any money and, in fact, would save money.
The meters would be read electronically and would interface with the town's computerized billing system. The meters would also alert the town water department to any undetected leaks in the system.
Dedrick said the award is considered a "green grant."
"The intent of the program is to conserve 10-30 percent water," the supervisor said. "The feeling is that it'll not only save on water consumption, but there will be fewer chemicals used in treating water and less wastewater at the sewage treatment plant."
The supervisor hopes the town board will accept the grant following the public hearing.
"The town board is looking for public input, but this is a fairest way to go," he said. "This is a chance that probably won't happen again in our lifetime. It would cost a fortune if residents had to pay for these meters."