Some Williston residents will have the option to cut down the cost of their water bill after council approved a plan to help curb costs during the regular meeting Aug. 12.
Customers who have two water meters - the extra one is normally for irrigation - will be able to have their second meter removed and the line tied into the regular meter at no cost to them.
Earlier this year, council changed the town's billing policy for water customers.
The new system averages customers' water usage during the months of January, February and March and uses that figure to determine the sewer usage rate for the rest of the year.
This was introduced as a means to reduce the costs to residents who use water that doesn't go back into the sewer (pools, gardening, sprinklers, etc.)
Under the new system, people currently using two meters no longer need the additional sprinkler meter but would be charged the base rate for having one.
Two months ago, Milton Widener, the town's fire chief and a water customer, told council members about his concerns regarding the new policy.
He asked council to waive the base rate for the second meter to make things fair.
Last week, council voted unanimously to have the town pay the cost of having customers' irrigation meters removed and the line tied into the regular meter.
In a memo, Assistant Town Administrator Kenny Cook justifies the expense since the town plans to replace all water meters with radio meters in the coming years.
People who don't have the meter removed will still have to pay the monthly base rate ($12.65) for a second meter.
The cost of removing all the irrigation meters in town is estimated at $11,700. The town will also lose the $12,000 generated annually by the base rate fee for the second meter, but that loss is offset by the 10 percent increase in base rates for water and sewer services council approved in July.
Widener spoke again during last week's meeting. He gave an update on the fire department's work this year.
The department is on pace to have a record amount of calls this year. As of Aug. 10, Widener said firefighters have responded to 107 calls, 72 of which were inside town limits. Another 32 were in the county and three more were to Aiken for mutual aid, Widener said.
"It's turning out to be one of our busiest years ever," he said. The busiest year, according to his records, was 2011 with 123 calls.
The biggest fire in Williston this year was the one that destroyed the Price-Wise grocery store April 27.
"This is my first major loss, and I've kind of taken it to heart," Widener said.
Council members praised Widener and the department, which has 32 volunteers, for their service to the community.
"We certainly appreciate it," Mayor Tommy Rivers said.
Widener also announced the department's new fire truck should be ready in September.
He said having a new truck is good news for residents who have homeowner's insurance since insurance rates are affected by the quality of a town's emergency services.
Fire departments undergo evaluations by the Insurance Services Organization. If Williston's rating improves, insurance companies may decrease premiums for residents.
During the meeting, council approved the first reading of a lease purchase agreement which combines the costs of the fire truck ($255,000) and a new garbage truck ($138,000).
In other business:
Council approved up to $20,000 for the purchase of a passenger van to be used with the inmate work crews. Supervised inmates will begin working various jobs for the town beginning Sept. 1.
Council reappointed three members of the planning commission: Wilhelmenia Ashley, Robby Rimes and Linda Sloan.
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