Since the Village of Walden launched its water meter replacement program two years ago, the municipality has steadily gone forward with installing new cellular devices on residents’ meters that accurately measure homeowners’ usage rates. But with the village still facing a number of outstanding homes that have yet to schedule appointments to have their meters replaced, the Village Board is considering legislation that would fine residents for non-compliance.
During its session on Tuesday night, the board set a public hearing for its next meeting on Dec. 3 for Introductory Local Law No. 10 of 2019 regarding water meters. The legislation would set a fee to incentivize residents to change out their water meters as required. The $75 fee would be billed quarterly to offenders if the law is approved. Currently, the only action that the village can take against homeowners who don’t comply is the severe measure of turning off their water supply.
The fee would be used to cover the cost of personnel and the administration of switching out the meters for those who do not comply. “Are we running into a large number of people who are non-compliant?” Trustee Lynn Thompson asked during the meeting. Walden Village Manager John Revella replied that during the last round of meter replacements in 2003 and 2004 that over 100 homes didn’t schedule appointments on purpose to replace their meters. The village has now changed approximately 1,200 meters in the municipality, with over 1,000 still to go.
Inaccurate meter readings can result in residents not paying their fair share for their water consumption. “We’ve gone through two years now of volunteerism, and we’ve just hit a roadblock with the lack of people volunteering to make appointments and getting the meters installed,” Revella said. The first draft of the legislation included a $25 for non-compliance, but the penalty was bumped up to $75 in the latest draft. Revella said the penalty would act as another tool to get residents to comply with the water meter replacement requirement.
During the board’s Nov. 19 meeting, the council set a public hearing for its latest comprehensive plan for its Dec. 17 meeting, and also tabled a discussion about the potential annexation of the Amthor property until that same meeting next month.
Climate Smart Program
On Nov. 16, a Climate Smart event was held at the Walden Library to update residents about the village’s progress on its early efforts within the state’s Climate Smart Communities program. Organized by Mary Ellen Matise and Patricia Henighan, the session drew 18 local residents and featured an update from Revella about Walden’s climate initiatives.
The village manager noted that the municipality is in the process of applying for funds for an electric vehicle charging station, has installed insulated windows on the Municipal Building and is conducting a village-wide energy audit, among other measures. Thompson has volunteered to represent the Village Board on the Climate Smart council, as Walden aims to meet the state’s climate goals in order to improve sustainability in the community and to qualify for state grant funding.