WARRENSBURG - For decades, households and enterprises in Warrensburg have paid a set annual fee for use of water instead of paying for how much they used.
For many years, people have paid a set fee for water, whether they used 10 gallons a year or 100,000.
By next year this may change. The town government has taken a major step in converting to metered water usage.
In a split vote March 11, the Warrensburg town board awarded a bid of $169,639 to pay for updated water meters, transmitters and computer software for remote water meter reading and billing.
Board members said the move will save water and energy and make water billing equitable rather than arbitrary.
"The purpose of this project is twofold - it's for conservation and fairness," Supervisor Kevin Geraghty said.
"People and businesses who use water the most should pay for it, and those who conserve water should be paying less," he said.
The cost of upgrades is partially offset by a $66,840 state grant, and the board will be seeking to fund the remainder with grant money too.
"Our vendors know we will be accomplishing this piecemeal as we obtain the money for it," Geraghty said.
Now, water rates are fixed at $102 annually for a household, whether the family members - one or 6 or 12 - use 10 of thousands of gallons or virtually none at all.
Commercial rates are also based on a subjective assessment, water department. foreman Wayne Reed said.
"I don't feel individuals should pay for others' green lawns or pay to fill their swimming pools," he said.
Water meters have been in place in area households since 1993 - when the town board mandated their installation - but town government has since never taken action to put them to use.