A day after the City of Mansfield published a press release concerning the lack of appointments for installation of new water meters citywide, Public Works Director David Remy took time during City Council’s Caucus meeting on Tuesday to provide additional details about the situation which gave rise to that notice.
1812Blockhouse covered the installation question on Tuesday (see post here). In a nutshell, on Monday the City shared a strong call for citizens who have not yet done so to make appointments for that purpose.
Remy’s words on Tuesday evening were clear and direct.
The announcement was made after a precipitous drop in appointments, he said, which in turn gave rise to concerns about the hired installation company being able to keep the current 10 to 12 crews in town and completing the project. Otherwise, they will be forced to pull people from Mansfield.
In a worst case scenario, that could result in penalties for the City.
As of Tuesday, 7,600 residential meters have been finished, Remy said, and 8,800 remain to be installed. At the same time, he noted that there are only 1,000 appointments in place through the end of February, and toward the end of that month there are only one or two scheduled per day.
The main goal is to encourage people to make appointments, the Director shared. Some social media comments, as well as calls received by the City, have claimed that some residents have not received notices. “I don’t believe that,” Remy said, as notices have been sent out three to four times over the last six to eight months.
Issues with the call center making appointments have been identified, he added, and the contracting installer has been working with them to make them more responsive.
Remy insisted that the installer is aware of and working to make this happen, and also expressed concerns about the substance of what some responses have been. Several have said that they believe they do not have to let the installeters into a residence, for instance. Some of those refusals might be due to the fact that instead of minimum usage bills for some time, those individuals will now be billed for and must pay for water they actually use, he speculated.
“We are a utility,” Remy emphasized, and must collect for what is provided. The “local water rates are reasonable.”
Water service can be legally terminated if refusal persists.
Council then shared some observations and questions. Council President Cliff Mears asserted that the City has been patient, as the program started in 2019. Shutting off service might be the last resort, but it might become necessary.
Councilperson Cheryl Meier shared responses from constituents which, she said, were mostly negative. Several were from citizens who could not get an answer when calling for an appointment, while another was concerned about COVID-19 issues. Other Council members shared personal experiences that the installers have little contact with residents, try to do thorough cleaning of equipment between appointments, and are in a residence no more than 20 to 30 minutes.
If residents experience plumbing issues after the water meter arrives, such as dripping pipes, they can call Director Remy’s office and, if related to the installation, a plumber can be sent out to rectify the situation.