By Miranda Rogers
Utility usage was the key focus of a brief meeting of the Lockhart City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 3. Among the things considered by the council during their first meeting of the year were city residents’ use of electricity and natural gas, and the possibility of selling water to residents of Caldwell County.
With wells running dry due to the drought, City Manager Vance Rodgers brought forth a proposal that will allow the City of Lockhart to sell treated water to private individuals for domestic use.
Rodgers said he was proposing the ordinance to provide an option for residents of Caldwell County whose wells have gone dry, and who have nowhere else to go for water. Under the new ordinance, the City will be able to sell water to private residents, at the rate of no less than $25 for the first 2,000 gallons, and $8 each for every additional 1,000 gallons.
Residents wishing to purchase water must provide containers that are compliant with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) regulations, and must provide 24-hour notice before coming to the City of Lockhart Treatment Plan to purchase the water.
The council also eyed the City’s agreement with AEP Energy Partners, Inc.
Lockhart is currently under contract to purchase 10 percent of their electricity from AEP, with the lion’s share still being purchased from the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). The new agreement, which will take effect in 2014, will allow the city to purchase another 5 percent of its power from AEP.
The delay in the agreement, which is expected to save City of Lockhart ratepayers additional money in power generation and purchase costs, is due to a provision in the LCRA contract that requires the city to give two years notice prior to making changes in their outside purchase plans.
According to Rodgers, AEP has consistently provided a lower rate for power.
In response to a recent announcement by Texas Gas Service Co. regarding the company’s intention to increase rates for Texas Gas customers in Lockhart, the City passed a resolution blocking the increase for 90 days to allow city officials time to study the rate increase.
During the 90-day suspension, Rodgers intends to meet with City Managers from other municipalities, including Luling, Shiner, Nixon, Cuero and Yoakum, whose residents will be impacted by the increase. Those meetings, he hopes, will yield a partnership between the cities that will share the costs of researching and potentially fighting the rate increase.
If the cities are unable to block the rate increase, residential customers in those areas could see as much as a 12 percent increase in their monthly natural gas bills.
In brief news:
At Large Councilmember Angie Gonzales-Sanchez has been tapped to serve the city as Mayor Pro Tem. Gonzales-Sanchez, who was nominated by Councilmember John Castillo after a nomination to allow Paul Gomez to continue as Mayor Pro Tem failed 4-3.
The council entered a contract with ABC Professional Tree Service Company for $16,500 to trim trees in various locations around high voltage and secondary power lines in the City’s right of ways.
This will be the first time for Lockhart to use this company, but Rodgers said Bluebonnet Electric, which also utilizes their services, has good things to say about them.
Lockhart Little League president Sophia Sosa approached the council to discuss the dissolution of the Lockhart Little League organization, which has been re-formed as the Lockhart Youth Softball and Baseball Association, and to clear the air about the group’s goals and intentions. The recent change has caused friction between the organization and the City, because the existing contract for the Lockhart Youth Sports Complex specifically refers to an agreement between the City of Lockhart and Lockhart Little League.
Mayor Lew White said he finds the dispute unfortunate, and has committed to attempting to find a resolution with the organization before the council’s next meeting on Jan. 17.
The Lockhart City Council routinely meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Glosserman Conference Center at Lockhart City Hall. The meetings are open to the public, and are televised on Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10.