Sixty-one percent of respondents to a North Mankato questionnaire said they are not in favor of paying a monthly surcharge to allow for automatic water meter readers to be installed on homes, eliminating the need for residents to submit monthly readings.

Some residents in favor of new automated meters commented that ‘yes, yes, a million times yes’, ‘It’s about time’ and ‘more likely to pay a fee for a meter made in USA!’.

As for those in opposition, comments included ‘City should pay for this’, ‘this is too much money for some and for the value of this service’ and ‘Why? Are people too lazy?’. 

City Administrator John Harrenstein says he feels the results show that residents are clearly against a surcharge to install new radio read water meters.

“Been given a clear indication that at this time, pursuing a large capital project, changing all meters is not in the interest of the public. I do believe that a bulk of that concern was related to the surcharge. So, we need to be respectful of that.”

For the 39-percent of citizens that responded yes to the questionnaire, a majority indicated that they would be willing to pay between 3 to 5-dollars a month for the meters.

The City Council expressed a desire to see the project phased in when also looking at the cost for infrastructure that would read the meters.

“Yeah, we don’t really want to go wholesale implement this, but let’s figure out a way to either allow those that want the service to pursue it and let’s begin implementing the technology with new construction. That will take some time to put together. In addition, when you offer choices for service, it becomes more complicated, it sometimes becomes more costly.”

With about 7-thousand 100 meters citywide, the total cost for the change would come in around 3-million dollars.

Officials add that the new meters would improve accuracy and help identify minor leaks that would possibly go unnoticed with the current system.