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Ottertail approves $72,000 meter reading system

The city of Ottertail will soon be fitted with new meter reading equipment.

At its March 10 meeting, the Ottertail City Council approved a $72,710 purchase to buy a new system.

The decision comes after the city's existing equipment failed last month. Ottertail Maintenance Supervisor Lee Sherman discovered that the meter readings were missing after returning to his office. This resulted in the city having to estimate water bills for the entire city.

The new equipment will allow Sherman to read all of the meters from a truck, saving valuable time. By adding a box unit to each existing meter, the city's current meters will be remotely readable with the new software and a box reader unit.

It costs approximately $150 per box to add a box onto the existing meters at residences and businesses. This brings the total cost for the city to just under $50,000. Installation of the registers will run about $15,000.

Also included in the $72,710 bid are the Neptune Reading System, programming software and training to familiarize Ottertail city staff with the new system. The company installing the new system will notify residents before the switch-over begins.

"We won't be raising any water rates," said Elaine Hanson, Ottertail city clerk-treasurer.

Money for the new system will come out of the city's water fund.

Another key decision made at the March 10 council meeting was the approval of a special events policy for the city. The policy has been on the table for the past few months, with most of the changes related to the insurance requirements appropriate for events and/or event sponsors.

The purpose of the recently approved special events policy is to "set forth the procedure for the time, place, and manner of holding certain special events on city streets, on city property, and on private property when an event's impact upon the health, fire, law enforcement, transportation, or other services exceeds those regularly provided to that property."

Examples of "special events" would include a festival, rally, street dance, sporting event, outdoor gathering, or other type of entertainment or celebration. In order to hold a special event in the city, organizers must first obtain a permit for the event. All permits will then be reviewed by the city clerk, under the authority of the city council.

Also discussed was the city's pending ordinance regarding E-911 Uniform Addressing. The purpose of passing this ordinance is to make sure that residences and businesses display the correct address number assigned to that location. This is especially critical so emergency professionals can quickly and easily locate a specific address in the event of an emergency call.

A few details of the ordinance are still being figured out. There is a section of the ordinance dedicated to "exceptions and practical alternatives." Possibilities other than blue, numbered, two-sided post signs are discussed here. This would apply to areas like the downtown commercial district.

"The biggest concern is the size of the numbers on the buildings," Hanson said.

The ordinance stipulates that numbers must be at least 4 inches tall.

A draft of the E-911 Ordinance will be sent to the city attorney for review. If approved, the ordinance will be on the agenda at the next council meeting.