By A.C. Hall
The Benbrook City Council discussed options regarding ATMOS rate increases. This is an issue that has faced several other cities as they looked to handle a possible rate increase.
Finance Director David Ragsdale presented this item to the council. He spoke of the GRIP process passed by the legislature in 2004 to help out TXU. This incentive program gave TXU the ability to match any money they invested into infrastructure with rate increases that didn’t have to go through the regular channels.
“Cities didn’t like that much, because we had no input. We found right off the bat that there was a tremendous amount of abuse,” Ragsdale said.
ATMOS now has this same power. The ATMOS Steering Committee, made up of over 150 different municipalities, is presenting an alternative to the GRIP process, called Rate Review Mechanism. This RRM would mean an overall rate increase of $5 million less than GRIP, and would allow cities to have more input.
“We’re realizing that this is a bitter pill we have to swallow, but it’s easier to do this than the GRIP,” Ragsdale said. “It’s basically the best of two bad choices.”
A motion was made to approve the RRM. That motion passed unanimously.
NEW WEBSITE UNVEILED
The council also got a demonstration of the all new Benbrook city website. Located at http://www.benbrook-tx.gov, the site has been completely overhauled. Designed to be user friendly, the site provides numerous menus that contain links and information for things like city services, city government, and other commonly needed areas. The site will also host live broadcasts of city meetings that can be watched in real time, as well as archived broadcasts of past meetings. It was also designed to look good on mobile devices such as iPads and mobile phones.
Council member Ron Sauma thanked everyone who worked on the website and spoke glowingly of the new site.
“That website, and I’m not a tech guy, I found was so easy to get around and it looks nice,” Sauma said. “There isn’t anything the citizens can’t find out about what’s happening or what has happened right in our City.”
Council member Jim Wilson also spoke about the new site.
“It shows that our city wants to inform, encourage and involve,” Wilson said.