Village of Bellaire working out water revenue loss issues

T-L Photo/SHELLEY HANSON THE VILLAGE of Bellaire Water Treatment Plant is shown. Village Administrator Mike Wallace is learning more about why the village is seeing losses in its revenues.

BELLAIRE — The village is learning more about why it is losing so much money on its water system.

During a recent Bellaire Village Council meeting, Administrator Mike Wallace said he has gleaned some information regarding issues, but more information is needed from the company that provides technical support for the billing software.

Wallace said after talking with some employees of the village department, he learned part of the problem has to do with faulty meter readings and occasional mistakes when data must be manually entered.

“We need to find out what the revenue problem is,” he said. “We’ve found we’ve worked toward that solution … Part of it is in the meter reading, part of it is the (reader) guns, some of it is the time taken to manually enter the non-Bluetooth readings. And sometimes there’s a misplacement of a decimal point,” he said.

He noted the water meter reader was able to read 127 meters the first day he used a “loaner gun.”

“We’re going to have ours repaired and a second one on order so we will have a backup,” he said. “The one that is not Bluetooth from the old accounting system to me is worthless because you have to read and write, and the addresses don’t always correspond in a chronological order as the accounts do. So it takes a lot more time and you get less production,” Wallace said.

Wallace said his goal is to have at least 190 meters read per day.

“That should give us 10 days and we should be in and done, and we’ve got time for other stuff to do,” he said.

“When we have a zero read I want to know why we have a zero there. … We found out there may be some problems if the touch pads are mounted near a lot of wiring outside, like TV, cable or something. There may be some RF interference it won’t read,” he said.

Wallace noted he tried to talk with the technical person from the accounting software company about issues related to the system, but the man was somewhat “standoffish.”

Councilman Jerry Fisher said since the village is paying the company to help with the accounting system, they should be more than willing to talk.

Council is expected to invite the representative to attend an upcoming water committee meeting.

Village Solicitor Michael Shaheen said if the representative declines to meet with the committee or council he could send him a letter regarding council’s questions.

Wallace noted he talked to several current and former employees about the water revenue situation.

“It’s a challenge. You’re dealing with personalities and you don’t always get the same answer two times in a row,” Wallace said.


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