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Red Oak holds on gas distribution rate change

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Ellis County Press

RED OAK - Members of the Red Oak council are taking a wait and see attitude on TXU's requested increase to its natural gas rate while ironing out contract details.

Councilmen unanimously agreed to suspend the proposed rate hike after a lengthy discussion with Mance Zachery of TXU over the rate schedule changes and wording of the contract.

City Manager Ken Pfeifer told council members, if the council approved the rate schedule, two sentences should be removed from the contract. Zachery said he was unable to contact the key people who could approve the contract rewording.

'It may be in the best interest of the city if you suspend the rate today,' Pfeifer said. 'This gives us a chance to work out the wording.'

Zachery said Red Oak and Bardwell were the only two cities in Ellis County to see a rate reduction. The proposed change would mean a 6.45 percent reduction to Red Oak customers.

Council member Kay Wiggs asked Pfeifer about the possibility of the city waiting the see what other county cities are going to do. Pfeifer said other cities likely will follow Waxahachie's decision and try to negotiate a better rate.

Zachery told council members Red Oak would loose nothing except time in suspending the action while they waited on other cities to act. The most the change could be delayed is 90 days before the change would be effective.

Following the discussion, council members agreed to table any action on approving the rate change and also agreed to suspend the change request.

Council members received a brief overview from department heads as they begin preparation for the year 2001 budget. Three departments said they will be adding staff positions next year.

The fire department will be adding a full-time fire fighter, and public works will be asking for an additional maintenance worker. In city administration, a city secretary position will be created as well as a payroll and accounting clerk.

The city will be upgrading computer software in both the police department and city administration. Pfeifer also announced a proposed five-percent merit pay increase plus salary adjustments for the police department.

Todd Fuller, city economic development director, said his department will be looking to purchase additional land for future economic growth as a part of the city's five-year-plan. 

In other action, council members approved the purchase of a road grader and dump truck for public works. The fire department also received approval for a loan to purchase an additional fire truck.

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