(WAUSEON, OH) — Weights and Measures Week is celebrated March 1-7 each year to commemorate John Adams signing the first United States weights and measures law on March 2, 1799. Weights and measures responsibilities in the marketplace have expanded well beyond simple scales and meters and include much more than meets the eye. In addition to testing gas pumps and grocery store scales, today’s weights and measures officials are responsible for regulating a sophisticated, fast moving marketplace.
Weights and measures officials operate in today’s marketplace to protect consumers and provide fair competition among businesses. Inspectors examine price scanners in electronic point-of-sale systems to make sure customers are charged the right price for their items. Inspectors check signage, advertising and price computations in all types of businesses to make sure consumers are not misled or cheated. When they discover violations, they work with the business owners to rectify the errors.
In Fulton County, Tim Klopfenstein, Weights and Measures Inspector, works hard to keep up with the ever evolving world of weights and measures. “It used to be that we just had to test scales and meters but we now have to be knowledgeable of the technology associated with the scales and so much more.” In 2015, Klopfenstein made a total of 260 inspections at Gas Stations, Feed, Fertilizer & Grain Scales, Car Washes, Laundromats and Supermarkets to name a few. He tested a total of 2554 devices through the county which include scales, liquid measuring devices and non-commercial devices. He also checked 120 packages from 9 different establishments to make sure that the weight of the product totaled out to the price sticker.
New for the Fulton County Weights and Measures division in 2015 was a purchase of a fuel prover. The prover is a portable measurement device that provides the ability to test three grades of gasoline at fuel stations. Prior to the new prover, all of the product had to be returned to underground tanks until all pumps were finished being tested. The prover also allows for Fulton County to test high flow diesel meters at truck stops instead of relying on service companies to conduct the tests. “This has made the process much more efficient for us here in Fulton County. Business owners appreciate the fact that it saves them on costs associated with having a service company test them.”
Looking to the future, Klopfenstein mentions that programs will be implemented to regulate electric meters and electric charging stations as these vehicles continue to enter into the marketplace. Additionally, programs to regulate the use of Compound Natural Gas (CNG), as seen in metropolitan areas such as Columbus, will be implemented.
“The Weights and Measures program in Fulton County costs the average tax payer roughly $1 per year,” Klopfenstein notes. With approximately 180,000,000 gallons of fuel and billions of dollars of retail sold in Ohio annually, the small investment can save both taxpayers and business owners thousands of dollars.
Weights and measures jurisdictions use weights and measures week to inform others about their role in commerce and to help the public to be more aware as consumers. Weights and measures affect everyone and is one of government’s most impactful consumer protection services. The Fulton County Weights and Measures Department is a division of the Fulton County Auditor, Brett Kolb.