City Leaders Stalling Atmos Rate Increase - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

12/8/05

City Leaders Stalling Atmos Rate Increase

The Lubbock City Council met behind closed doors to discuss your gas bills. Last month, NewsChannel 11 told you how your gas bills could be going up and it has nothing to do with the high price of gas. Atmos needs more money from you to pay for $7 million in expenses.

Two Lubbock City Council members have a problem with that.

Through an open records request, we got a copy of documents that show proof as to why they need to raise your rates 8%. It is to help them recover $7 million in extra investments. Investments made between April 2003 to December 2004.

NewsChannel 11 did the adding, $3 million, nearly half of the money spent, was for moving pipes for the Marsha Sharp Freeway. But we also found other expenses, like laptops, fax machines, new chairs, batteries...thousands of dollars that was spent in Amarillo and Dallas.

"I don't view laptops for a call center in Amarillo as an essential to the impact on their rate case for Lubbock citizens," said Councilman Gary Boren. Atmos regulatory affairs Vice President Bill Guy says that "Lubbock customers are served by the call center in Amarillo, therefore Lubbock customers should pay for their share of the service received."

In all fairness, utility companies are entitled, by state law, to a certain rate of recovery on the amount they spend. However, Councilman Tom Martin says the council wants to make sure Atmos is asking for a rate increase for a legitimate reason. "As a member of the council, I want to be very sure such an increase is justified, first of all, before I am willing to allow this to go into affect," said Martin.

We checked with the city of Amarillo, they tell us Atmos has not filed a rate increase request for their customers. City council is set to make a decision on the rate increase next Thursday.

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