City council decides who’s responsible for water meters

By: 
Stephen Kalb-Koenigsfeld, Pioneer Editor
Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Big Timber City Council decided the city would be responsible for fronting the money to cover costs of repairing and replacing water meters, during the July 2 meeting. 

After input from Public Works Director Kris Novotny, the council decided it would be appropriate and responsible to pay for the installation of new meters, or for the repair of meters that have been failing, as long as they weren’t broken from negligent use. 

“Anytime there was a break or something broke on a meter, we’ve just been repairing it,” Novotny said. “A few months ago, it was decided any meter work was going to be billed to the homeowner, and I don’t believe that’s right. That’s not in our policies anywhere.”

Novtony said communities, such as Reed Point and Columbus, have their cities cover the cost of meter repairs. Meters were put in the homes when he first started working for the city, and said they have a life of about 20 years. It’s been 18, and he said he’s already starting to see some fail. 

Novotny brought a policy from the Minnesota Rural Waters on how to appropriately handle meter repair and the costs associated with it. He recommended the council read the policy and consider adopting a plan, such as that one, that lays out the groundwork for water meters in Big Timber. 

Variance request voted down

After months of tabled discussion, a variance request for Olivarez Bees was voted down unanimously Monday night. 

A variance request was submitted to the council nearly a year ago on June 29, 2017, asking to turn an old, decrepit cabin into a retail building. Upon further discussion, councilman Ken Rockemen motioned to bring the item to a vote, which it was voted down, 4-0. 

Rockeman explained his troubles the agenda item, as when Olivarez Bees originally purchased the land with the old cabin, one of the conditions was to tear it down, rather than to remodel it. 

“The original agreement with Olivarez was to removed that building,” Rockeman said. “That’s the reason they got that approved. They didn’t stand up to that; they came back and asked for something else. I don’t think that’s a very good way to do business: To state you’re going to do something, to get something, then you don’t do it and change your mind.

“I don’t like somebody doing business like that.”

There was no one from Olivarez Bees at the council meeting to speak on their behalf.

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