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NL may take over sewer, water district billing from Spicer

NEW LONDON -- New London was the apparent low bidder over the city of Spicer for a contract to provide customer billing for the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District.

Spicer has done the billing for about nine years.

This year, when the project was put out for bids, the city of New London also put in a proposal. New London ag-reed to provide the service for $17,600 annually for the first five years, and $18,600 annually for the following five years.

The New London bid was about $20,000 less than Spicer's over the 10-year period, according to New London City Administrator Trudie Guptill.

She said Ron Hagemeier, director of the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District, questioned whether New London's equipment was adequate. "We have to make sure he's satisfied with the equipment we're using," said Guptill.

Hagemeier could not be reached for comment.

Spicer Mayor Denny Baker, who is also president of the sewer and water district board, said he will have no choice but to vote for New London's bid, even if it does hurt Spicer economically.

"A bid is a bid," he said. "If all of the things checked out with Ron Hagemeier and he's satisfied with the equipment, there's no reason not to approve their bid."

Baker said he has no ill feelings for Spicer's neighbor, located four miles to the north.

"I don't like to lose it for the city of Spicer," he said. "We presented what we thought was a very good bid. They happened to come in lower. That's the way it is."

The combination of lost revenue from the contract and a reduction in local government aid prompted the Spicer City Council to take action to reduce its city staff from three people to two.

The city clerk and the financial officer positions are being eliminated as of Jan. 1. The duties will be combined into one new position, said Baker.

If New London is awarded the contract, it would gather data from radio meter readers and bill Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District customers in New London and around Green Lake, George Lake, Henderson Lake and Nest Lake. Spicer would continue to bill its own residents and the Kandiyohi Power Cooperative provides billing services for Lake Florida residents.

New London would not have to add extra staff to do the billing, said Guptill. The city would, however, invest about $160,000 to install 500 new meters that could be read remotely.

Revenue generated from the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District contract would eventually offset the expenses and leave New London with an additional $40,000.

The new meters will also save city public works employees time, said Guptill. Instead of taking two or three days to read meters, it will be done in a matter of hours.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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