Weatherford Democrat

July 2, 2013

Council takes no action on gas rate hike request


Weatherford Democrat

— By BRIAN SMITH

Weatherford City Council last week took no action on a requested Texas Gas Service rate increase, meaning the increase automatically went into effect June 28.

The 4.4 percent increase was a bone of major contention for council members, who said TGS had asked for increases over the last several years. TGS noted that many of the increases were going toward required improvements to their infrastructure required by the Texas Railroad Commission, the overseeing body.

Spokesman Sidney Kirk said the council could do nothing and the rate increase would go in to effect automatically. The council could have voted no to the issue and went into mediation on the rate increase.

Council member Heidi Wilder said after doing some research on the matter, she said she felt it may be more fiscally responsible to deal with the rate increase.

“We’ve done a tremendous amount of diligence and analysis on this request. We’ve had a couple of work sessions and tried to negotiate with TGS,” Wilder said. “We found other cities have asked for mediation in matters like this and have been denied. I think we should take no action, not because any of us supports the matter, but the cost and expenses of the appeal process would have to be borne by the taxpayers and could be more than if we accepted the original increase itself.”

In other activity during the 25-minute meeting, the council gave authorization for city staff to issue citations for fireworks violations and gave public works officials approval to put stop signs up in a number of areas along Texas Drive, including stops in all directions of Texas Drive and Washington Street.

In his monthly budgetary report, Director of Management and Budget Chad Janicek said through May 31, the city had received 68 percent of its revenues for the FY 2012 budget and spent 65 percent of budgeted expenditures.

Property tax and fine revenues are still coming in ahead of budget with sales tax revenue 5.35 percent higher than this time last year. For the budget year, sales tax is up 1.6 percent from the previous year.

Hotel occupancy numbers are up as well. Taxable receipts from the state Comptroller’s office show a four percent increase for the year to date and a six percent increase in April over April 2012.

Janicek said a “sneak peek” of the upcoming fiscal year budget, which starts in October, will be given at the July 9 meeting.

A proclamation declaring June 29 as South Weatherford Ex-Students Day was read. Mayor Dennis Hooks said the school dates back to the 1920s before merging with the Weatherford ISD in the 1950s, the group held a reunion this past Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the North Side Baptist Church Fellowship Hall.

Representatives invited all former members of the school to attend.