November 30, 2021

Homer approves fee for uninstalled meters

While no residents spoke directly to the Homer Village board of trustees during a public hearing Tuesday, two trustees raised concerns about the village charging a fee to people who don’t respond to a village request to replace old water meters.

Trustee Tim Daley said he got many calls from constituents about the fee.

“It seems to me that several of the folks that called did try two or three different times to schedule with Buzz (Lawrence Barber, superintendent of water and sewer) and weren’t able to do so,” Daley said. “It seems to be it was on our end, not theirs.”

The village has been contacting residents to replace water meters — some 30 years or older — to save money by having all of the same types of meters and ensure accurate billing. However, it still has around 400 meters to replace.

Some people are not responding to the village’s repeated attempts to schedule an appointment with Barber to have them switched. The idea is to entice those people to finally call, by charging them a $50 fee if they don’t, said Mayor Darren “Hal” McCabe.

“Clearly this is not designed to punish people who are trying to get their meters switched out, it’s to incentivize those who are flat out refusing to do it,” McCabe said. “There are those that won’t ever make this happen unless we do something to light a fire under their butts.”

Daley was the sole vote against the fee.

“I had enough people express their concerns,” he said. “I’m basically voting no as their voice.”

Deputy Mayor Pat Clune said that if there is no incentive to get it done, then people will push it off “forever and ever.”

Daley said people feel offended because they’ve tried to reach the village.

“I know in the meeting when we last spoke, we said many different forms of notification have gone out, but many forms of acceptance of them coming in haven’t happened,” Daley said, adding the village should just keep impressing on the property owners the advantages of making the switch.

Trustee Kevin Slack said a few residents came to him with concerns over allowing people into their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We need to assure people our guys are doing the right thing, they come in masks, gloves and sanitize anything they touch, so that fear should not be there,” Slack said.

McCabe said residents with a legitimate concern can be put further down the list.

“We can push them to the back of the line and don’t worry about replacing their meters until next summer,” he said, adding residents with a health concern should contact the village offices.

But that raised questions of at what point will the village actually start charging fees.

“I don’t see us starting to impose the fines until we get to the point where we got a pool of people that just will not respond and that’s all we got left,” McCabe said.

Barber was not at the meeting.