ITLAY — The Italy City Council voted to award the water meter replacement contract to Ferguson Waterworks of Euless at its monthly meeting held Monday evening

There were three types of water meters to choose from – a mobile unit, a drive-by system and a fixed base system.

Scott Hoelzle, project manager with KSA Engineering, said the portable, hand-held units would require personnel go to each meter to get its reading. The drive-by system requires employees drive by each meter to collect meter readings. The fixed base unit could be based in city hall and collects water usage information remotely.

He said they could spot a water leak in a home before the home owner by checking the usage.

Municipal Water Works of Royse City had the lowest bid for the portable and drive-by systems at $142,502 and $153,712, respectively. The low bid for the fixed base unit was $205,236.

A representative from Municipal Water Works said they were $50,000 less with the drive-by system and said workers driving and getting the readings could spot water leaks. He said it was a “no brainer” to go with the drive-by system because they would be saving $50,000.

Zeb Bright with Ferguson Waterworks said there are a lot of advantages to the fixed base system because the city crew can get hourly readings, if needed. Another advantage is that city employees are not required to go out and physically get the reading.

Bright said they use mesh (military) technology which is upgradable throughout its life.

The representative from Municipal Water Works began verbally attacking the fixed base system and Mayor Frank Jackson asked him to sit down.

Italy resident Elmerine Bell spoke up during the meeting and said the city’s infrastructure is so bad and questioned how they could justify spending the extra $50,000.

Mayor Pro Tem Rodney Guthrie said all this was advertised months ago when this bond was approved.

Resident Albert Garcia said the city finally has someone who knows what they are doing and asked what Dean Carroll, public works director, recommended.

Carroll recommended the fixed base unit.  Guthrie then made the motion to go with the fixed base system with a second from Dennis Perkins Jr. The motion passed unanimously.

Other bids were from Britton Meter Supply of Red Oak, HD Supply Waterworks of Dallas, Johnson Lab & Supply of Palestine, DNA Automation of Kaufman and Atlas Utility Supply of Fort Worth.

In other business, the council approved an ordinance banning smoking in all city buildings and on city property. This bans cigarettes, cigar, chewing tobacco, snuff or any product made of tobacco or a tobacco substitute that is not a cigarette.

James Hobbs made the motion that they include electronic smoking devices as well. Guthrie seconded the motion which passed unanimously.

The council also approved an ordinance which cancels the city election scheduled for May 12. Teri Murdock, city secretary/administrator, said there were three seats available and three incumbent, that signed up for the position – Perkins, Hobbs and Bruce Utley.

The mayor proclaimed March 18-24 as “Poison Prevention Week” in Italy.

Jack Bingham, manager for DCI Sanitation, addressed the council stating that he is taking steps to augment the trash service in the city. He said he would like to see increased recycling awareness within the city and asked if they could provide larger bags rather than the totes currently in use.

He explained that the totes are not large enough for some recyclers and explained that any extra recycling material could be placed in a bag and placed beside the totes on the scheduled pick up day.

Mike McKenna, a representative from Ellis County RACES, addressed the council about installing a repeater on the water tower.

He explained that RACES is a group of professional volunteers who serve all areas of the county with emergency communications in times of severe storms, natural disasters, community events and whenever radio communications is compromised.

He said they have repeaters on towers in Waxahachie, Ennis and Midlothian and said they needed the ability to communicate in the southern part of Ellis County.

He was told to bring a contract back to the city and, in the meantime, Carroll will make sure there is available room on the water tower.

Bell requested they help with community education with the program.

In other business, the council approved Carroll to search for a grant writer. He said there are grants out there that the city is not applying for.

Greg Richards made the motion, with a second from Guthrie, to allow Carroll to pursue finding a grant writer.

The council convened into executive session for half-an-hour to discuss Diron Hill, police chief. They took no action following the closed session.

Council members thanked the department heads – Murdock, Carroll and Hill – for the jobs they are doing.

Garcia said he learned about home invasion issues when earning his concealed handgun license. He said many are going into sleepy communities and doing home invasions. He said the increased police visibility, he believes, has helped stop this type of crime in Italy.

During department reports, Hill said the officers worked a total of 1,608 hours in February and made 16 arrests – six felony, six misdemeanor and four traffic warrants. The animal control officer worked 21 hours, impounded two animals, picked up four animals, issued one citation and two warnings. The code enforcement officer worked 10 hours and wrote one courtesy letter.

The animal control officer, Shelby Landon, told the council about the current animal control policy after a complaint was received at a recent council meeting.

She explained that she makes every effort to find the owner when she finds an animal. If she is unable to make contract, then she said the animal is taken to Waxahachie because the city does not have the facilities to detain animals.

Hill said the good news is total crimes in Italy, such as rapes, robbery, aggravated assault, property crime/criminal mischief and burglary has dropped 77 percent from the same time last year.

He also presented a brief slide show noting the vehicle improvement and updates. He said they have five new Panasonic Toughbooks with touch screens to use in police cars. He said officers can complete their reports in the vehicle with these computers rather than going into the office to do the paperwork.

The council also approved minutes from February meetings, bills and earned compensatory time.

Council member Bruce Utley was not present at the meeting.