Council to consider tariff to pay for underground lines on Main

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor

Jan 6, 2008 - Just two months after City Manager Marc Maxwell proposed an inexpensive way to hide some of the hideous overhead power lines downtown, City Council members are set to vote on the idea.

The measure and 11 other agenda items will be addressed during Tuesday's special meeting of the council at 7 p.m. at the Sulphur Springs Municipal Building, 125 South Davis St.

Meetings are usually held the first Tuesday of each month, but this month's meeting was postponed a week due to the New Year's holiday.

Item number 7 on the agenda calls for discussion and action on the first reading of Ordinance No. 2535. The ordinance, if approved on two separate votes by the council, would adopt an agreement with Oncor that will allow the electricity distributor to charge city residents 23 cents a month to pay to put power lines on Main Street underground.

Putting the lines underground will not only be more aesthetically pleasing, but it's a smart time to do it — the street and sidewalks on Main are scheduled to be reconstructed next year.

Residents and businesses owners in the city will actually pay for the project, but through a novel way.

Sulphur Springs is part of a consortium of cities that fought a rate increase request by Oncor, with a settlement being reached in 2006. Part of that settlement included an agreement that Oncor could levy a small fee to help cities pay for electrical infrastructure work.

The cost of the project has been estimated in the neighborhood of $50,000. Maxwell said this week the average customer in Sulphur Springs would pay 23 cents per meter  to cover the cost. Most businesses would pay a somewhat higher fee, but virtually none more than $5.75.

The surcharge would end after 12 months.

Other agenda items Tuesday include:

-- The second and final reading of Ordinance No. 2533, which wold amend the zoning laws to include the Central Commercial District — i.e., downtown — as an area where a private beverage club can be located. The measure was approved by a wide margin on first reading in December after several people spoke on the issue, all but one in favor of approval.

-- Discussion and action on a plat and rezoning request by Clint and Linda Bulkley related to property between Interstate 30 and U.S. Business Highway 67 on the west side of the city. Clint Bulkley is owner of Bulkley Trucking in Martin Springs and purchased the land before it was annexed by the city in 2006. He has said he wanted to move his operation, which he said includes a payroll of between $2 million and $3 million, to the property, along with new operations and additions. Two nearby property owners, however, have repeatedly challenged the request for zoning changes at previous meetings, saying it would severely impact their property values and quality of life.

The council is also scheduled to consider an agreement with Atmos Energy on gas rates; a Specific Use Permit for 206 Main St.; and an agreement for engineering services on the troubled water lines on Houston Street.

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