Kamloops senior Sigi White didn't get what she wanted from City council Tuesday.
The pensioner asked council to waive the $25-per-reading being charged for seniors who opt for water meters that don't have radio-frequency emitters on them.
The City is charging the fee four times a year to cover some of the cost of sending an employee out to the 75 homes that, so far, have meters that require being read manually.
White said in a letter to council the extra charge is unaffordable for her, and she doesn't want the radio-frequency meter.
City utilities director Tracy Kyle said 15,400 meters have been installed so far and, of those, 75 have opted for the manual-read models. That's less than one per cent.
Coun. Donovan Cavers asked if people like White could read the meters themselves and send in the numbers.
Kyle said that was looked at, but there has to be a verification process.
City corporate and community affairs director David Duckworth said the rates change twice a year, as residents get a larger base amount of water in spring and summer than in fall and winter. An error in reading would be difficult to correct, plus staff check for leaks and give residents feedback when they go to read meters.
Coun. Tina Lange asked if a senior could defer their meter-reading charges as they can do with property taxes. When they die and their house is sold, the City is reimbursed.
The province doesn't allow utilities to be put off like that, City finance director Sally Edwards said.
Coun. Marg Spina said the $25 probably doesn't cover the cost of staff time, vehicle and gas to do the readings.
"While I can appreciate it's tough for seniors, there are also seniors who are not low income and do quite well. It would really place a burden on the City if they had to prove who had money and who didn't. And they'd have to do it for all."
Mayor Peter Milobar pointed out that before the metered rate, people like White were being charged more than $500 a year for their water. If she uses only her allotted amount, she will only pay $400 a year.
"They chose not to have a wireless read meter and they will still be at $500 a year."
Council voted unanimously to send White a letter explaining that her water bill will likely not exceed what she's currently paying as Milobar noted. Coun. Nelly Dever was absent.