Council approves energy rates increase, E-Corps facility

Commerce – The City of Commerce has agreed to a change in tariffs with Atmos Energy Corporation, resulting in a 15 cent per month rate increase for the average residential customer.

The decision was approved Tuesday during the city council's regular session.

Atmos had initially sought a $15 million net increase in rates, but following negotiations with Atmos Texas Municipalities (ATM), a net increase of $2.6 million was agreed upon. ATM is a coalition of over fifty Texas cities, which Commerce is a part of. The settlement allows for less than 18 percent of Atmos' requested net increase to be implemented.

The city Tuesday also entered into a contract with Conway Company CPA's for audit services for the city, the Commerce Economic Development Corporation (CEDC), and the Commerce Water District (CWD) over the next three years.

Prior year audit costs have run approximately $15,575 for the city, $2,500 for the CEDC and $3,000 for the CWD.

The Commerce Emergency Corps was granted a conditional use permit for property located at 1116 Main Street, adjacent to the chamber office downtown. The site will be used as a welfare or health center.

John Derr, Chief of Commerce E-Corps, addressed the council Tuesday. He said the site would help E-Corps increase professional services to customers, noting the organization has not had a facility in which to operate from. Derr also feels this will help attract volunteers and stated plans of improving the aesthetics of the building's exterior.

A future goal of E-Corp would be to staff the facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The city council was scheduled Tuesday to discuss appointment of members to a Charter Review Committee, but that item was moved to next month's meeting. Commerce last updated it's charter in 1995. The original charter was adopted in 1954.

Prior to Tuesday's meeting, council was scheduled to hold a workshop to address the Texas Open Meetings Act, as well as discuss a street improvement program. That workshop was cancelled, however, as a quorum was not met. In attendance were Mayor Quay Throgmorton and Councilman Bob Monday. Not in attendance were Councilman Richard Hill, Tony Henry, and Councilwoman Billie Biggerstaff. All were in attendance for the council's regular session.

Additionally, the Commerce City Council is considering changing meeting times from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. the first and third Tuesday of every month. City Manager Dion Miller, along with City Attorney Jim McLeroy feel it'll help attract more citizens, plus get everyone home earlier.

City Manager Miller also announced Tuesday City Planner Janet McPherson's plans to step down. Following completing of services in Commerce in August, she'll begin work for the City of Royse City. McPherson will rejoin Bill Shipp, now City Manager of Royse City and former Commerce City Manager.