City utility customers will see a substantial increase in their natural gas bills beginning with their December bill. The increase is necessary to help pay for connecting to the Kinder Morgan gas pipeline south of town, city officials say.

The increase will be the result of a rate hike approved Monday night by the Eldorado City Council when they authorized an amendment to Ordinance 101-12. The amendment increases the base rate for natural gas to $34 plus tax. In return for that amount, city customers will receive 2,000 cubic feet (2 MCF) of natural gas with an additional $2 being charged for each additional MCF over the 2 MCF minimum.

Base rates for out-of-city customers will remain at $42 plus tax for a 2 MCF minimum with the same $2 charge for each additional MCF.
The December gas bill will reflect the charges for the gas used in November.

The city will be paying West Texas Gas (WTG) a base rate plus $3.75 per MCF in order to pay for connecting to the Kinder Morgan pipeline. The $3.75 surcharge will go away once WTG has recovered the $475,000 investment it made in connecting to the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

The change over to the Kinder Morgan line became necessary when it was announced that the Huldale Plant, the city’s gas supply for more than 35 years, is being closed.

The city’s WTG bill increased more than $7,900 over the $889 base rate it paid in September.

In other business, council members voted in favor of a pay raise for city employees in the form of a 4% cost of living increase, beginning with the December payroll. The money for the pay raises is included in the city’s 2020-21 budget.

The council also approved longevity pay for all employees. Since the city is prohibited from giving Christmas bonuses, for many years, the city council has granted a one-time payment at the end of the year based on an employee’s years of service, or longevity.

In other business, the council declined a request by Christina Gamez to close off Lee Avenue for a block party on December 5th.

Engineer Tom Brown reported that the Community Development Block Grant Program has adopted new rules governing how municipalities may apply for grants, as well as the rules by which those grant applications will be scored. He noted that all applicants will have to come up with 5% matching funds.

That means a community that asks for $300,00 will be required to come up with $15,000 of its own money.

Brown explained that the Texas Water Development Board has received $4 billion from the Texas legislature. The money is earmarked for water, drainage and flood control projects. Implementation of projects is still in the planning stages, Brown said.

Utility Superintendent Floyd Fay reported that the water level at the city’s monitor well is at 294 feet, with the pump running. He also said that water usage in October declined by 10% when compared to October 2020.

Fay also noted that his crews are continuing to fill potholes and chip tree limbs throughout town.

Mayor George Arispe presided over Monday night’s meeting with council members Wayne McGinnes, Danny Halbert, Mack Reddish, and Oscar Martinez in attendance. Council members Vicki Farmer and Felipe Pina were absent. Others in attendance included City Secretary Karla Reyes and Utility Superintendent Floyd Fay.

The next meeting of the Eldorado City Council is slated for 6 p.m. on Monday, December 14th, in the council chambers at City Hall.