Before Meter Readers There Was J. Baxter Kremer

July 9, 2015

As the sun rises, there’s a flurry of activity at the Allmond Avenue Distribution Center. Twenty-one meter readers pick up devices, load up their jeeps and prepare to capture thousands of water readings. Today, meter readers typically walk a route to record the reading. In more rural areas, they drive by homes and use a device in their truck to pick up a radio signal sent by the meter. Times have changed.  In the late 1800s, the process of tracking water usage was far less precise. Back then, there were no water meters. Instead, you applied for water service in person and an assessor would visit your home and calculate an annual rate. You’d pay in person, twice a year for the estimated amount of water usage. In 1860, a three-room home was $5 a year (add another $3 if you had a second family there), a mansion with 20 rooms was $14. If you owned a brewery, the assessor calculated three-cents for each barrel of beer; a distiller paid 10-cents for each barrel of liquor. And, if you owned a cow or horse, there was an extra charge for water. If you had questions about your water usage, you typically turned to one person: J. Baxter Kremer. Upon his death in 1954, Kremer was Louisville Water’s longest-serving employee. He was with the company for over 57 years, and was the Chief Assessor for at least 34 of those years. His job included managing the assessors, the men whose job it was to go “into every home to check on the number of rooms, the fixtures, faucets, etc.” The assessor’s job was a powerful one and required a good personality!  It could be stressful and unpleasant at times. Louisville Water’s archives show a high amount of turnover in the Assessor Department. Later in his career at Louisville Water, when all services were metered, Kremer was head of the commercial department.  An article from 1949 calls him the “Water Firm’s Walking Encyclopedia” and goes on to say Kremer was known for his good memory and he rarely had to consult records for information. In conjunction with the launch of LINK, our new customer care and portal system, we have also done a complete overhaul of our mobile workforce management system. This new system allows us to streamline the field work we do, which means more efficient repairs and service for you. This switch is an important step in Louisville Water’s long and colorful history.