Norwich $2.9 million water system upgrade lacks the votes

Norwich — The proposed $2.9 million ordinance to upgrade the Norwich Public Utilities water metering system was not approved Monday night by the City Council, despite the 4-3 vote in favor.

City Manager John Salomone said Tuesday the council needed at least a 5-2 majority voting in favor to approve the bonding ordinance. He said no tax money would have been used to support the bonds. The project to upgrade to automated water meters would have been funded through water rates and low-interest state and federal loan programs.

Aldermen William Nash, Jerry Martin and Joanne Philbrick voted against the project Monday, with Nash complaining that NPU did not provide enough detailed information to support the proposal, such as cost benefits, potential long-term savings and staffing impacts.

NPU Assistant General Manager Chris LaRose told aldermen during the discussion that if the measure did not pass, the utility would continue to operate with meters that are read manually, and would attempt to apply for state grants and loans again in the next round of applications. The process typically takes two years, he said.

But Alderman Peter Nystrom, who voted in favor of the ordinance, said he doubts any state funding would be available in two years.

“I wouldn't be looking to go back to the state in two more years,” Nystrom said. “They won't be there.”

"We are carefully evaluating how and when we will move forward with this important project," NPU spokesman Chris Riley said Tuesday.

c.bessette@theday.com

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