By A.C. Hall
Meeting without Mayor Jerry Burns who is currently out of town, the White Settlement City Council looked at several proposals Tuesday night to deal with a water rate increase from Fort Worth.
“The City of Fort Worth has passed on three rate increases since we’ve had a water rate increase,” City Manager Linda Ryan said. “The last water rate increase we had was in 2008.”
White Settlement purchases around fifty-five percent of its water from Fort Worth, and the rate increase this year from Fort Worth is 17 cents per thousand gallons. In 2010, Fort Worth increased the rate by 16 cents. Another water charge that is now affecting White Settlement is the fee of 10 cents per thousand gallons the city pumps out of the ground. That’s an increase from 3 cents that they have been paying up until now.
“If we don’t pass these charges on we’re going to be where we can’t meet our budget,” Ryan said.
She stated that there is currently no plan to increase sewage costs. There were four possible rate increases given to council that featured a mix of base rate increases and per gallon usage fee increases for both commercial and residential customers.
The proposal that the council agreed upon was one that would see an average residential bill increase by $1.58. Ryan described this as an option that “would best serve your citizens.” This proposal raises the residential base rate by 25 cents and the per thousand gallon after 2,000 gallons by 25 cents. Commercially, it raises the base rate by 3 percent and the per thousand gallon after 2,000 gallons by 50 cents, making a monthly increase of $3.22 for the average commercial user.
“If we don’t do this, we’re going to hit some hard times with paying Fort Worth,” Ryan said.
Councilmember Garry Wilson made a motion to approve the proposed increase. That motion passed unanimously.
Zeig Electric Tax Abatement Terminated
Since 2006, the city has had a tax abatement agreement in place with Zeig Electric, owners of the office building at 8224 White Settlement Road.
“For the last two years they’ve been in violation of this tax abatement agreement due to delinquent taxes,” Ryan told the council.
The agreement was set to last through 2014, but as part of tax abatement agreements the city does, the company is required to keep their tax payments current. In order for the proper process to take place with the Tarrant Appraisal District, action from the council to terminate the agreement was needed.
Councilmember Elzie Clements asked if the taxes were just late and was informed that they hadn’t been paid at all in the last two years.
“They have filed bankruptcy,” Ryan said. “We will get our taxes, it’s just going to be slow coming.”
Councilmember Mike Arnold made a motion to terminate the tax abatement agreement. That motion passed unanimously.
Smoking Ordinance Tabled
The council voted unanimously to set aside the agenda item dealing with the smoking ordinance, as it appeared not to be ready.
“There was two or three things in there that I thought needed work,” Arnold said.
The council spoke of picking up work on it in the new year as they continue to get it prepared.
“It is something that we need,” councilmember Gene Hatcher said.
Oil/Gas lease with Chesapeake renewed
The council voted unanimously to a new three-year oil and gas agreement with Kastner Land, who was working on behalf of Chesapeake Energy. This is a renewal of a three-year lease for 70 acres of land that recently ended, and Kastner offered the city $5,000 per mineral acre for a total bonus of $395,000. The city will also receive twenty-five percent royalties if the area becomes active.
Municipal Judge and City Prosecutor receive raises
The council met in a closed door executive session to hold the annual review of the Municipal Judge and City Prosecutor. Upon reconvening, a motion was passed that granted each position a four percent raise retroactive to the beginning of October.