Marble Falls Council bucks ATMOS rate review system

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

The Marble Falls City Council took a stand of sorts against rising natural gas prices for some 1,325 citizens who are customers of ATMOS.

The city is a member of the ATMOS Texas Municipalities (ATM), a group of municipalities served by the ATMOS Energy Corporation, Mid-Tex Division. The ATM had retained legal counsel and consultants to review the latest proposed rate increases by the natural gas service company.

ATMOS was seeking a $57.4 million increase that equated to a base-rate increase of about 8.35 percent. The company settled for a $48 million hike, or a base-rate increase of about seven percent.

“Most of the cities involved have approved the increase,” said City Manager Mike Hodge. “It went into effect June 1.”

So far, however, the Marble Falls council declines approval, if only to make a point.

“The rates had gone into effect by the time the council met,” said Hodge. “But the current rate review method is expiring and a new one will have to be negotiated.

“It seems the city council has decided, with their vote, to send a message to ATMOS about the rate review process.”

The first impulse of the council, after an executive session on the matter, was to outright deny the resolution on a motion made by Council Member Reed Norman and seconded by Council Member Craig Magerkurth.

ATMOS Public Affairs Manager Randy Hartford spoke up to remind them that their ATM attorney had recommended approval and he asked the council to table the item for further discussion. The council retired for a second executive session, the original motion failed and the item was tabled.

Most of the items on the agenda pertained to property, zoning and permit decisions but, included in the consent agenda was approval of Peggy Jones Real Estate of Meadowlakes to act as broker for the sale of the former bank building and parking lot at 209 Main Street that now houses the Marble Falls Police Department.

“The new Public Safety Facility is on target for completion in late September, with a ribbon cutting expected in late October or early November,” said Hodge.

The six-month broker's contract states an asking price for the Main Street as $740,000 and specifies a fee of three percent of the negotiated sale price.

Reappointed to serve until May 2019 on the Marble Falls Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors were Steve Reitz, Jane Marie Hurst, Judy Miller and Lindsay Plant.

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