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Girard City Council overrides mayor's veto

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GIRARD, Ohio - It took less than five minutes for Girard City Council to vote to override Mayor James Melfi's veto of an ordinance that would allow the city to buy and install radio-frequency water meters for all city water customers.

Council needed five of seven votes to override the veto, they got six.

Girard is one of very few cities that still use city employees to actually go into people's homes to read the water meter manually. Now the new meters can be done automatically.

Council members who voted yes say it's much needed technology that will help the water department and the city.

Councilman Joseph Shelby says, "Because of our antiquated means of meter reading we only acquire 35% of all meter readings for every billing period. Therefore, we only know what we purchase. We don't know what we sell and we certainly don't know what we're losing because we have no accurate readings."

Mayor James Melfi has long argued that the city should have paid off Girard Lakes before spending the $1.5 million on the new water meters. The lakes were due to be paid off in 2015.

The lone no vote for the veto override came from Councilman Larry Steiner who agreed with the mayor. "I foresee a rate increase to pay for them. If we wait until the lakes are paid off in 2015 it's very possible we won't need any increase to pay for the meters. We will have water rate increases anyhow because Niles raises their rates for us," Steiner said.

Mayor Melfi says he wasn't surprised by the veto. "I will monitor the installation of these meters. I will monitor the financial end of this deal and will monitor the operation end of this deal and I will report to the citizens and to council as to the success of failure of these devices," Melfi said.

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