Soon, city electric customers may no longer receive a shock when opening their billing statements. The rate of 0.1269 per kilowat hour – among the highest rates around – will be coming down to 0.1083 after a vote this week by the Granbury City Council.
The city’s governing body voted to change the rate structures for electric, water and sewer customers. It was a move that City Manager Wayne McKethan said has been needed for some time because the rate structures have been out of line with the standard practices of other utility companies.
“It’s close to how AMUD structures theirs,” McKethan explained, referring to the new water rates. “We’re not breaking new ground here.”
The tiers will primarily affect commercial users, not residential customers, McKethan and other city officials said. Water rates that are tied to meter size and tiers of usage hopefully will encourage conservation, while having little or no effect on the average homeowner.
“The purpose is to deter (commercial users) from using so much water,” Neighborhood Services Director Becky Mauldin told the council Tuesday night, just before its members voted to adopt the new rates.
Mauldin told the Hood County News on Thursday that the new rate structures, which will take effect June 15, are “more equitable” for utility customers.
A two-page letter from the city manager explaining the changes in detail will soon be mailed to utility customers.
“If you are a utility customer using all three city utilities (Electric, Water and Sewer), with typical consumptions, you are likely to find some financial relief with implementation of these new rates,” the letter states.
In addition to the letter of explanation, two public meetings headed by Mauldin are planned so that the public can receive information and also ask questions about the new rates.
She will be assisted by Eva Gregory of the city’s finance department. Mauldin said that the city manager may also be there.
One meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 21.
The other will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 30.
Both meetings will be held at American Town Hall, 220 N. Travis St., by the county library.
Mauldin said that she will bring to the meetings a laptop with a spreadsheet. If members of the public will bring with them a recent utility bill, she will plug numbers into the spreadsheet to show them, based on the usage shown on that particular bill, the amount the bill would be under the newly adopted rate structure.
The tiered rate structures have been months in the making, created after an in-house analysis was conducted. Results from the study were discussed in four meetings with the Municipal Utilities Advisory Board (MUAB) and in several workshops with the City Council.
McKethan said the new plan brings more of a balance to the three utility entities.
At the City Council meeting, Mauldin stated: “Our goal was to balance the system so that each utility entity was holding its own.”
DIFFERENT PLAN PROPOSED
After Mauldin’s brief presentation, council member Gary Couch made a presentation of his own.
He offered a different plan that involved, among other things, suspending utility franchise fees that go into the city’s General Fund and repaying the $500,000 that was taken from the Utility Fund several years ago by a previous council administration. The money was used to purchase a parking lot near the square for $1 million.
However, Couch’s proposal was given no traction by any other council members. Council member Tony Allen said he feared that the city’s bond rating could be negatively impacted if Couch’s plan were to be implemented.
Council member Mickey Parson did, however, support Couch’s desire to examine certain issues, such as franchise fees, in the annual budget workshop that will take place in July.
“I think we’re going to find at budgeting time that things can change quite a bit,” Parson said.
On Thursday, McKethan said that, even if the city didn’t have its own electric company, any electric company that serviced city customers would pay a franchise fee to the city’s General Fund.
Franchise fees, he said, are a normal source of revenue for a city’s General Fund.
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