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Council to canvass election results

May 21, 2012

The Big Spring City Council will meet Tuesday night to canvass the results of the May 12 municipal election, which will officially get the ball rolling on the $13 million overhaul of the municipality's water and wastewater facilities utilizing economic development funding approved by voters.

The council is expected to consider emergency reading of an ordinance canvassing the results of the election during the meeting, including the race for the District 4 seat on the council and the controversial 4B sales tax project voters approved by a whopping 71 percent margin.

The race for the District 4 seat on the Big Spring City Council came down to slightly more than a dozen ballots, as candidate Bobby McDonald took the win with 232 ballots, a total of 51.44 percent of the vote, with challenger Loretta Farquhar receiving 219 ballots, a total of 48.56 percent of the vote.

However, the hot-button topic in this year's election was certainly the 4B utility project, which passed with 1,182 ballots in favor, making up a whopping 71.51 percent of the vote, with 471 casting their ballot against the proposition, accounting for 28.49 percent of the tally.

As part of the agreement between the council and the Big Spring Economic Development board of directors, the EDC will provide $750,000 a year for the first two years, and then 40 percent of its sales tax revenue — with a floor of $500,000 and a ceiling of $750,000 for the following 18 years — with the city of Big Spring picking up the remainder of the tab.

The council is also expected to entertain first reading of a resolution directing publication of notice of intent to issue combination tax and revenue certificate of obligation to finance the project.

Also during Tuesday's meeting, the council is expected to consider final reading of a resolution denying a rate increase requested by Atmos Energy's West Texas Division estimated at $11.6 million, a move that will likely force the issue before the Texas Railroad Commission.

The council approved first reading of the measure during its May 8 meeting by a unanimous vote, a move made necessary by Atmos' unwillingness to negotiate on the matter, according to City Finance Director Peggy Walker.

“The company is requesting an $11.6 million increase. Our consultant found there is actually a decrease that could be substantiated,” Walker said. “As part of the steering committee, our city has been working diligently with the company to negotiate a settlement. However, for some reason the company does not seem to be willing to settle this case. A lot of that deals with the fact that Amarillo and Lubbock have stand-alone rates, which are considerably lower rates than what our citizens pay. They are trying to maintain that stand-alone status.

“We have a June 11 deadline, at this point. If the city does not take action then the rates will go into effect June 11. Since we have not reached a negotiated settlement, we are requesting the council go ahead and deny the increase. We know it will be appealed to the Railroad Commission, although while it is in a pending status with the commission we will continue to try to negotiate. If we reach a settlement, we will bring that back to the council. If we can't reach a settlement, then it will be left entirely up to the Railroad Commission.”

Tuesday's meeting is expected to get under way at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, located at 307 E. Fourth Street. Fore more information call 264-2401. Also, a complete copy of the meeting agenda can be found online at www.mybigspring.com

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