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Rialto, California

Keywords: Meter Reading, Failed Contract

Water Meter Reading

Three years ago, the City of Rialto contracted out its water meter reading to a private contractor. The three employees that had performed the work previously had all recently retired, which meant that the transition would have no effect on city employees. The program cost about the same as with city workers, but the city saw contracting out as a way to lower the number of workers it had to supervise directly.

Following several complaints from consumers, the city chose to bring the service back in house about a year ago. The employees hired by the private contractor were not reading the meters directly, but rather estimating households water usage. These estimates were often way out of line with actual usage, which angered many consumers.

Service quality has improved since returning the service to public employees. Costs are about the same compared to the private contractor.

Case based on interview with Joe Guzzetta, City Administrator, June 28, 1999.