The contractor installing new village water meters here has overrun the completion date by more than a month.

Troupe Water Services LLC was hired in January and began work in early February on a project putting in nearly 2,300 water meters and readers in the village.

The total $491,432.50 contract is about 57-percent complete, Village of Saranac Lake Manager John Sweeney said this morning.

It was supposed to be finished Sept. 2.

The village has advised Troupe it is in breach of contract.

"They are currently still under contract," Sweeney said.

But village officials retained attorney Kenneth Varley of the Albany firm Donohue, Sabo, Varley and Huttner to "protect the village's interest."

In a statement, Sweeney said Troupe was given notice of contract default.

And Varley was retained "to seek resolution with Troupe's bonding company, Capital Insurance Companies."

To date, Saranac Lake has paid $90,412 to Troupe, with another payment of $10,461 approved for July and in process, Sweeney said.

The payments represent about 20 percent of the total contract.

The delay has also added nearly $20,000 to the engineering contract fee, since the entire water-system upgrade is being managed by consultants Barton and Loguidice out of Syracuse.

Randy Troupe, owner of the Windham, N.H.-based water-meter installation company, did not immediately returns calls this morning to explain why the firm is behind schedule.

To keep pace, Troupe would have had to install about 100 meters a week.

The water-meter project will be finished, Sweeney said, possibly through bonding procedure.

For now, water users will continue to be billed at either a metered or flat-usage rate.

Saranac Lake was awarded $1 million in stimulus funding for the project in October last year, which required $112,719 in matching funds from the village.

According to the project description filed with the Green Innovation Grant Program, "significant water use reduction is anticipated for the (Saranac Lake's) one-million-gallons-per-day system, which currently experiences approximately 43 percent unaccounted for water. A 20-percent reduction in water use would result in a water savings of more than 70 million (gallons) per year."

If village residents have questions about the status of water-meter installation at their home, they should contact the village office.

Measuring village water consumption is one aspect of a three-part water system upgrade currently under way.

The Village Board of Trustees has scheduled meetings this month to review the water projects ahead of early budget discussions set for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 18. Water calculation will be the topic at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12. Discussed at 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14 will be the water-source project. All sessions are at the Village Office, 3 Main St.

E-mail Kim Smith Dedam at: kdedam@pressrepublican.com

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