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SHELBYVILLE – The Shelbyville City Council is considering a possible $2 million project to replace aging water meters and add computerized billing for users of the city’s water system.   

The council will vote later this month on a plan to install new electronic meters that transmit information directly to the water billing department, eliminating the need for manual meter reading.

The proposal would include the cost of the meters and their installation, along with radio signal transmitting towers throughout the service area to send the information. The project would cost $256,000 a year over seven years and come with a 15-year warranty.

“We’re talking about a multimillion-dollar project when you factor in the cost of the billing software,” council member Brent Fogleman said. “I for one would like to know more about how it has worked for other communities.”

While electronic metering is common in larger cities, packaging the cost, installation and maintenance of the meters into one contract is new for Shelbyville. 

Council member Bill Shoaff, who oversees the water and sewer departments, said the contract is similar to one Shelbyville already has for maintenance of the city’s water towers. 

“That particular program has worked out very well,” Shoaff said. “When we had a leak in a tower several months ago, it was fixed quickly, without any additional cost to us, and it didn’t require extra time from our workers.”

If Shelbyville approves the plan, it will take nine months to upgrade the meters. The council will also have to purchase billing software at a cost of up to $40,000. The new system will enable consumers to pay their bills online and also provide more accurate and timely billing. Currently water bills are two months behind in actual usage.  The new meters would also detect unusual usage in homes and businesses, hopefully, leading to quicker leak repairs.

The new meter proposal came on the same night that Shoaff told the council work would have to be done on the city’s oldest water well.

“We’ve done some repairs, but now we need to consider overhauling the entire well,” he said. “It’s been in service for 60 years and understandably requires some maintenance.”

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Digital editor for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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