Hermiston residents will soon be getting new water meters and new electrical meters are coming this fall.

The council previously approved a contract to install new remote-read water meters, and on Monday approved a contract with Landis + Gyr Technology for new electrical meters that can also communicate remotely.

The cost of the electrical meters and their installation was rolled into a bond restructure that Hermiston Energy Services completed in 2016. Superintendent Nate Rivera said it will replace 5,300 meters, including 4,700 residential ones. He said the disruption to HES customers should be minimal, as it only takes seven to 15 minutes to install each meter.

The total cost for the meters and installation is $1,021,460. The city received six proposals from four vendors before choosing Landis + Gyr. Rivera said HES was able to come up with some significant cost savings from what was initially budgeted, leaving more money for other infrastructure improvements the utility has planned.

On Monday the council also approved an updated franchise agreement with Charter Communications. Assistant city manager Mark Morgan said the agreement contains two main changes from previous agreements. The agreement will last for seven years instead of five, and language was added making it clear the city has the option of adding additional fees for internet.

Currently Charter only pays the 3 percent franchise fee on sales of cable, not internet, even though other companies such as Eastern Oregon Telecom and Centurylink pay on internet. Morgan said staff would like to come back to the council soon with an ordinance that would apply the franchise fee to internet, too, as more and more people consume television through that medium instead of paying for cable.

During the public comment section at the beginning of the council meeting, Karen Primmer asked that the city consider changing the name of Airport Way after Umatilla County made the decision to table a request to rename East Airport Road. The two similarly-named roads near each other continues to cause confusion for people trying to find the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center.

Drotzmann agreed that he would like city staff to consider a name change to something like Municipal Airport Way or Hermiston Airport Way, but City Manager Byron Smith said that the city “is not going to take away the confusion until we get rid of ‘airport’ in one name.” Councilors said solutions to the road name issue was something they would like to discuss again at a later date.

Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.

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