The city commission voted in an ordinance on second reading to allow the 141 residents who have one-inch meters to change them out for the more common 5/8th-inch model, which would reduce the base service charge to residents by $36.17 a month, according to Karen Brooks, Coconut Creek's director of Finance and Administrative Services.
"One-inch meter owners pay a higher water base fee, so some of them want to downsize it to save on their costs," Brooks said.
Residents who have the one-inch meter will have to pay a $200 fee to make the change to 5/8ths. The fee goes toward the replacement meter and parts. The original recommendation to the commission was for residents to pay $400 for processing the request, parts, labor, inspections and modifying the customer account. But Mayor Lou Sarbone thought that was too much.
"I've been thinking about this a lot between readings and this is something we should encourage people to do because it's going to put them in line with what the rest of the city is on," Sarbone said.
According to Deputy City Manager Mary Blasi, the change in price won't affect the city budget negatively. Two hundred of the original $400 would have been paid to the city in compensation because of using city workers to remove the old meters and install the new ones. City utility workers are paid by money already budgeted by the city, so the city would have been making money had they charged $400.
During the first reading of the ordinance, resident Robin Cohen spoke to the commission about waiting for the ability to change her meter for about a year after her bill increased $20 a month when she moved from a five-bedroom house with a pool in Coral Springs to a three-bedroom house in Coconut Creek.
"When I inquired, I found out I had a one-inch meter instead of a 5/8-inch [meter]," Cohen said.
"They told me 10 years ago there had been an opportunity for people to switch out. I guess the homeowner at that time did not, so I've been paying these exorbitant water bills. My last bill was over $100 for the month."
According to Brooks, it will take about two weeks for the meters to be replaced once a resident puts in the request.