Saturday, May 18, 2024

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Graham, NC 27253
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Burlington primes the pump for proposal to install automated water meters


Burlington’s city council has approved an agreement (on Tuesday, April 20) that allows the city’s water resources department to press forward with a multimillion-dollar initiative to convert the city’s manual water meters to a high-tech automated alternative.

Bob Patterson, the city’s water resources director, reminded the council that the plan for this project currently calls for an expenditure of more than $10 million to install the new automated meters over a period of several years. Patterson added that, if the council approved the outlay under consideration on Tuesday, the first of these meters would be put in later this year. The work would then continue over a period of three years in order to spread out the cost of the upgrades.

Peggy Reece, the city’s finance director, told the council that Burlington’s current budget sets aside $4 million for the proposed upgrades. She added that the plan is to set aside another $2 million or so in each of the next two fiscal years.

The council had previously agreed to hire the firm of Core & Main to install the necessary infrastructure for this project. City staff members had recommended this firm over six other contenders that had competed for the city’s business. The agreement that the council signed off on Tuesday spells out the particulars of Core & Main’s work on the city’s behalf.

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Prior to its approval of this agreement, the council wandered off on a detour about the potential availability of federal pandemic relief to offset the cost of this project.

During a special council meeting on Monday, Patterson had presented these automated water meters as a potential contender for the $11 million that the city expects to receive from the federal government’s latest infusion of coronavirus pandemic relief. Patterson added, however, that his department had been prepared to proceed with this venture without any federal dollars. He also assured the council that the request up for consideration on Tuesday wouldn’t saddle individual water users with any direct cost for the new meters.

The council nevertheless bandied around some potential options for the potential use of federal relief funds on this project. Some of its members suggested that the city could complete the initiative sooner using the money from Congress. Burlington’s mayor Ian Baltutis was also quick to contend that commercial water users would also see a cost savings from the efficiencies of the new meters – especially if this three-year initiative is “fast-tracked.”

In other Business:
· The council solicited feedback on the city’s proposed allocations of federal community development funds that it receives each year from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs. No residents took advantage of this opportunity to weigh in on the matter.

· The council also postponed a hearing on a proposed Muslim cemetery along Hanford Road for the umpteenth time due to a request from the applicant, who has been negotiating the finer points of this project with a number of neighboring residents. The prospective burial ground is now slated to come up for a hearing on May 18.

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