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Ferris council requests voluntary conservation

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DIANA BUCKLEY
Ellis County Press
FERRIS - City officials say it's time to remind the people to conserve water.

'We've cracked the magic number,' said Public Works Director Charlie James, referring to recent temperatures of 105 and 106 degrees. 'We want to go to voluntary water rationing.'

According to City Secretary Denise Wilt, the city does not have any written guidelines for the voluntary rationing.

'We just want to remind people, don't do it unless you have to do it,' said Wilt. 'And there's a lot of ‘have to's' that you don't have to do!'

Mayor Jimmie Birdwell indicated during the July 17 council meeting he has received several letters from Gov. George W. Bush with regard to the subject.

'Governor Bush is very watchful over the water situation here in Texas,' Birdwell said. 

At this time, rationing of water is entirely voluntary, but Birdwell indicated mandatory regulations will be put in place if needed.

The council also delayed action on TXU Gas Distribution's rate increase. Ferris is one of 13 Ellis County cities affected, including Waxahachie, Alma, Bardwell, Ennis, Garrett, Italy, Maypearl, Midlothian, Milford, Palmer, Pecan Hill and Red Oak.

TXU representative Shelton Cook told the council the company has not filed for such an increase since September of 1984. 'We're asking for a total increase of $517,995.00,' Cook said. 'The return on investment now is 5.98 percent. Requested return is 9.68 percent.'

Speaking quickly, Cook outlined the company's proposed changes, slated to take effect on August 7. Of particular interest were two new adjustment plans which would allow TXU to make certain rate adjustments without following the mandated rate filing procedures - a Weather Normalization Adjustment and a Plant Investment Cost Adjustment.

'If the weather in a 30-day period is warmer than normal,' said Cook; 'We would be able to increase our (profit) margins by as much as 10 percent to recoup that loss of revenue. If it's colder than normal, we could adjust it down. It takes out some of the swings.'

Cook explained a PICA would allow for rate increases needed to recoup capital investments made in the area, without requesting a rate increase. According to handouts, Ellis County Area System net plant investment has increased $4.6 million, or 98 percent, since 1984.

'It's just our right to put it off,' said Mayor Pro-Tem Scott Born, apparently resigned to the inevitability of the increases. 

Council was unanimous in its desire to delay it as long as possible. After the vote, Mayor Birdwell remarked, 'From what I understand, we need to pray for some cold weather!' sparking laughter all around the room.

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