Council agrees to lower electric rates
By LPR Staff
After an announcement last week that the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) board of directors voted to lower fuel costs for electricity generation, the Lockhart City Council agreed on Tuesday to pass the savings on to their customers.
“Natural gas prices have fallen recently to their lowest levels since July 2005,” L
CRA said in their written announcement. “We are glad to be able to pass the benefits… along to your utility.”
According to the city”s Finance Director John Washburn, the reduction will amount to a decrease between 1.74 and 2.37 percent for Lockhart utility customers.
“The impact of this reduction is only one component of the electric bill,” Washburn said. “The other thing to keep in mind is that this reduction only affects part of our wholesale power.”
Washburn explained that only about 84 percent of the wholesale power purchased by the City of Lockhart would be affected by the LCRA reduction. The other 16 percent is generated in a gas-powered facility, and the prices for that power have not changed. Therefore, although LCRA granted a nearly 6-percent wholesale decrease, the cumulative effect for the customer will be smaller.
Mayor James “Jimmy” Bertram asked Washburn and city manager Clovia English why the city continues to engage in the “GenTex” contract, which provides the more expensive electricity from the gas-powered facility.
“In good times, the GenTex generation is a good deal,” English said. “It was helping us before. Now that gas prices are so volatile, it”s hurting us. [Changing the contract] might be something to look at in the future.”
English and Washburn expressed confidence that LCRA would continue the rate reduction for several months and the council would not have to raise rates again.
In other council business, after requests from area towing companies, the council considered raising fees for police-authorized “rotation” wrecker calls.
“Under ordinance, we set the fees on non-consent wrecker calls,” said former Interim Chief of Police Ray Sanders. “When someone tells us that they don”t have a preference or know what service to call, we have four companies that we work with.”
Sanders explained that the rates for the four rotation wrecker services have not been raised in four years. As a result of volatile gas prices, Sanders said the wrecker companies needed the rate increases to make the service profitable for the companies again.
Representatives from three of the four rotation wrecker companies were on hand to express support for the resolution.
“More than likely, the cars we”re picking up are going to total out and the money that we”re getting from the rotation call is all we”re getting,” said Tommy Barron of Barron”s Wrecker Service. “There is a lot of paperwork that goes into picking up the car and keeping it in impound.”
The council agreed to the increases in rotation wrecker fees, raising the prices for rotation calls from a range of $60 – $75 to a range from $100 to $135.
If citizens suspect they are being overcharged or have a complaint about the service of the rotation wrecker companies, they can complain to the police department, which reserves the right to inspect the companies to make sure they are compliant with the ordinance.
In brief council news:
Bertram announced that in the future, public comments during council meetings will be limited to three minutes per speaker. He attributed the change to the fact that in recent months, several citizens have spoken to council for upwards of 10 minutes at a time.
The council reviewed and updated the city”s investment policy.
Community Development Management Company of Lockhart will prepare a grant request for the city to participate in the 2006-2007 HOME Investment Partnership grant program. The grant request of $275,000 is expected to rebuild at least five homes for low-income residents participating in the program.
The council discussed creating an “Ordinance Review Committee,” in an effort to review the city”s code of ordinances and make them both more user-friendly and more easily understandable. Councilmembers are accepting volunteers to serve on the committee and will begin forming the committee at the beginning of May.
District Four Councilmember Michael Sanders returned to the council table after several months of service in Iraq. Sanders expressed his joy to be home and his excitement about returning to work in service of the city. While in Iraq, Sanders asked his commanding officer to fly a Texas Flag over his camp. The flag was certified by the military and Sanders presented it as a gift to the city.
The council recognized members of the Lockhart Police Department in honor of Public Safety Telecommunicator Week April 9-15.
The Lockhart City Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Glosserman Conference Room of Lockhart City Hall.