The water department was the big issue at the most recent Shirley City Council meeting, Oct 9.

City of Shirley Mayor Lisa Hackett, in introduction the matter, said the city’s water superintendent Larry Dollar was “ready to retire,” per the minutes, and decisions were due as to how the city would handle water issues going forward.

Two organizations presented a solution. The first was Community Water System with a proposal for it to buy Shirley Waterworks assets, then begin an upgrade process on lines and meters. Meters were especially noted here, as Community Water Service representative Steve Shaw pointed out, as 33 percent of the city’s meters do not read correctly, resulting in a loss of 50 to 53 percent of billable water usage, coupled with several water leaks in the city.

Johnson Waterworks represented by Robert Johnson was next with a proposal that his company take over management of the system, with the system remaining in city ownership. Included in his proposal was on-call service, as well as monitoring and sampling, along with 50 hours per year of labor. Additional labor would be billed at $35 per hour in his proposal. Johnson Waterworks would bill at $9.25 to $9.75 per meter, including meter reading, billing and collection.

Hackett pointed out to the council that under the Johnson proposal the city would have to apply for a grant or take out a loan to replace the pipe running under the bridge. To this Councilman David Cook pointed out the city’s need to create an infrastructure plan.

The bridge pipe has been a matter of concern in the past several meetings due to its needing replacement.

Hackett pointed out that with the year coming to a close and the 2018 budget being formed, the matter of water department control decision “… needed to be made ASAP….”

The 2018 budget proposal was distributed in the course of the meeting.