Posted: Tuesday, December 4th 2012 at 4:28pm
Mt. Airy opts for higher bid on water meter replacement
By Rob Moore Editor
MT. AIRY – The Mt. Airy Town Council voted Monday night to proceed with replacement of 515 water meters in the town at a cost of $115,405.
That bid, from Consolidated Pipe & Supply Co., was not the lowest bid submitted.
Each councilmember had a copy of the bid from Consolidated Pipe & Supply Co.
“Let me just make a couple of comments between that proposal and the proposal that we got from Ferguson, which is the other,” Mayor Gary Morris said. “The figure you see here is $116,247.65.”
Morris said the town has a couple of places that have two-inch meters, and is not going to replace those at the current time.
“We can do those at a later time,” Morris said, noting that Consolidated would honor the quote for that equipment.
“If you take those off, it makes theirs $115,405,” Morris said.
Morris said Ferguson’s price was $99,955,
“The difference in those two is $15,450,” Morris said. “In Consolidated you have a notebook computer laptop that goes along with this system that is included in their price. It also has a mobile mount for that to be connected to, and it’s got software.”
A company representative pointed out the price includes software, training, receivers, and everything needed for the complete system.
“In fairness to Ferguson, theirs includes software but it does not include the laptop and a few little items that’s required for it to input into the computer,” Morris said.
“We’ve talked about this and we like the Toughbook computer,” said Councilmember Ray McAllister, who chairs the town’s water/sanitation/fire committee. “It’s there with everything already on it.”
“When you take all that away, there’s not that much difference in the prices,” McAllister said. “And we like the stainless steel, solid piece construction of the meter. We liked it being completed sealed with no wires coming out of it.”
Morris said if something were to happen to the town’s Toughbook computer, Consolidated has a loaner that could, with minimal preparation, be placed into service quickly to keep the town’s reading process going.
“And we did talk about that we’d get the no-lead meters that meet the new standard coming out,” McAllister said.
“What it basically comes down to is you’re going to spend a little more for one than for the other,” Morris said. “It’s your place as watch care for the public is to determine is that value worth the difference.”
Morris said the lowest bid is not always the best bid.
“It’s your place to make that decision as to whether or not that’s the best buy for the citizens and for the dollars that we’re spending,” Morris told the council. “It’s probably one of the larger expenditures that we’ve done in a long time, and hopefully it will be for a while longer. We want to do what’s right.”
Councilmember Adam Tullis said one of his questions was answered in that the town is going with the no-lead meters that meet the new standard.
“Basically it looks like it boils down to do you think some Toughbook is worth $16,000 because, as he said, the meter is basically the same,” Tullis said.
“You’re not only getting a computer for that price, you’re getting all this technology and stuff they’re going to bring behind it,” said Mayor Pro Tem Mike McCoy.
Tullis said he called governments who have both Consolidated meters and meters from Ferguson, and that he received positive reviews about each.
“I didn’t find any negative comments toward either one,” Tullis said.
“One of the other points – and I’m sure you can tell I am biased in one direction than the other – but the fact that Demorest is putting in a bunch of these means that they’re going to have service people in the area all the time – not saying their product is bad, just that happens with things,” Morris said.
“The more of those meters that are in our county water system – being Demorest, the county, Cornelia, whatever the case may be – if something happens and we don’t have a part that we need, Demorest may have that part that we need to keep us going,” McAllister said.
Ferguson provided meters to the City of Clayton and in Franklin County, councilmembers said.
“Let me also make you aware that we did get more than two bids,” Morris said. “The other bid was $160,000,” Morris said.
McAllister made the motion to accept the bid from Consolidated, with McCoy seconding.
Because of the amount of money being spent, Morris asked that the vote be conducted by a show of hands. Each councilmember voted in favor of accepted the Consolidated bid.
The cost of the meters is offset by an increase in the monthly water bill for those who use above the minimum. (See earlier related story.)
No timetable was set for installation of the Mt. Airy meters. The contractor for Consolidated is in the area and has begun the process of replacing more than 5,000 water meters in the Demorest Water System, and that process could take as long as six months to complete.
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