City council approves evening meetings, denies Atmos rates - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

City council approves evening meetings, denies Atmos rate increase

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

The Lubbock City Council approved three key propositions in Thursday's meeting.

The council approved a lease for a new building for the Lubbock Health Department. Customers of Atmos will be happy to hear that the council has denied a rate increase. And the council has also approved moving all council meetings to 6:15 in the evening starting in August.

The council voted unanimously to deny the Atmos rate increase, but that fight isn't over.

Atmos first proposed the rate increase back in February but council post-poned the resolution until Thursday.

Councilman Victor Hernandez says the rate increase could cost the average resident 25% more on their bills.

"This has the potential to have a very negative impact," Hernandez said. "The actions taken today by the city is to continue to fight Atmos if you will, to keep that from happening."

Hernandez also says Atmos wants to consolidate three areas - the Lubbock Rate Division, Amarillo Rate Division and West Texas Rate Division - in order to set a single rate for the entire area of west Texas. Hernandez says this will also increase customer's bills.

Although the city denied the rate increase, Atmos can go before the railroad commission. They have the final say.

In the meantime, Hernandez says the city will continue working with Atmos to come to an agreement.

The council also voted 6 to 1 in favor of leasing a building off of Crickets Avenue for a new health department building.

Modifications to the new building are expected to take about 60 days and cost $75,000 dollars. The health department can stay in its current building until September 30th.

District 5 Representative Karen Gibson said, "Obviously there's a lot less modifications than the health department first thought, which is a good thing. And their concerns were that we were gonna spend a whole lot of money and possibly be there for maybe just three years... I think we squelched that. That's good."

Gibson said the current health department building is just too costly to run.

Copyright 2012 KCBD. All rights reserved.

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