Livingston electric rates to rise 1 cent
Polk County Enterprise, September 2007
BY VALERIE REDDELL
LIVINGSTON — City council members approved on first reading a proposed ordinance for an across the board one cent per kilowatt hour increase in electric rates during the city council meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
City Manager Marilyn Sutton said this is the first rate increase the city has proposed since 1999.
“None of us want to have an electric rate increase. We have a light bill too,” Sutton said.
The increase will offset a rate increase from our supplier as well as other increasing operating expenses, according to Sutton.
The vote to raise rates was unamimous with Clarke Evans absent.
Even after the increase, Livingston electric customers will have lower rates than the electric co-op that also serves Polk County.
The ordinance also increases connection fees, Sutton said.
Customers who are disconnected for non-payment are currently charged a $25 reconnect fee during the day and $40 for service between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m.
The new rates will be $40 for reconnects during the day and $60 between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m.
The fee increase for after-hours reconnects is important because utility staff are called out on overtime to perform those reconnects. The new rate comes closer to covering the city’s costs for overtime staff, gasoline and other expenses incurred for the reconnect.
In response to a question from the council, Sutton said workers get called out to reconnect about three accounts per month that have been disconnected for nonpayment.
Public hearing on cable
City officials received an application to transfer the cable TV franchise to Rapid Cable based in Littleton, Colo.
The company is already operating in Goodrich, and company representative Tony Luna said Rapid plans to compress the two systems into one office and operate out of the Skyview location.
Rapid currently serves about 40,000 subscribers in Texas, and Texas is the largest holding in the whole company. There are 10,000 subscribers in the Houston area, which will include Livingston and Goodrich.
The current system’s capacity is limited to 35 to 40 channels and Luna said his company hopes to expand it to 62 channels or possibly 78 channels as well as offer high-speed Internet access through a cable modem.
Rapid will offer wireless if sufficient line of sight access can be provided, Luna said.
Luna added that his company plans to offer a job to the current cable technician who lives in Livingston.
The current franchise agreement expires in 2011 at which time the city will lose its regulatory authority.
As franchise agreements with cities across Texas expire, the Public Utility Commission is assuming that regulatory authority, according to City Attorney Gaffney Phillips.
Public Hearing on City Budget
The council held a public hearing proposed budget for fiscal year 2007-08, but no residents came forward with questions about the proposed budget.
Council members reviewed a comparison of revenue and expenses from the current fiscal year and approved budget amendments that reflect actual revenue and expenses for 11 months of the current fiscal year.
Council members also unanimously approved naming the Polk County Enterprise as the official newspaper of record for the 2007-08 fiscal year.
The council also discussed a proposed annexation of property adjacent to the future site of First Baptist Church just north of Livingston.
The proposed annexation was first discussed at the August council meeting and a few issues have come up since that initial discussion, Sutton said.
The area proposed for annexation by the property owner is in a dually certified area that can be served by either SHECO or the City of Livingston for electricity.
City Attorney Gaffney Phillips spoke with representatives of the Leggett Water Supply and they are the current supplier for the area.
In this preliminary conversation, Sutton said the Leggett Water Supply did not indicate a willingness to allow the City of LIvingston to provide water service to the area.
Gene Bush asked Sutton what happens if the property owner does not want to be served by that provider.
In a recent annexation to the west of Livingston, Tempe Water Supply agreed to allow the city to provide water service, but they were already under water restrictions at that time, Sutton said.
Mayor Ben Ogletree Jr. also expressed concerns that if a business locates in that area that needs a great deal of water, or wants to install a sprinkler system for fire protection, Leggett Water Supply may not be able to supply it.
The property owner that requested annexation is planning to erect storage buildings at the site, so he does not anticipate using a great deal of water, Sutton said.
She plans to have follow-up conversations with Leggett Water Supply and the property owner to see if the annexation will move forward.
The city plans to hold the second public hearing on the propsed annexation Tuesday.
After the public hearing, the city has 30 days to decide whether to annex.