Pontotoc approves industrial gas rates

By David Helms/The Pontotoc Progress

The Pontotoc Board of Aldermen last week approved a motion establishing a discounted industrial gas rate for large volume customers on the city-owned natural gas system.

By a vote of 4-1, aldermen approved the industrial gas rate, which will only affect gas customers using a minimum of 3,000 MCF each month, over a 12-month period.

Pontotoc Mayor Jeff Stafford explained that average household gas customers use only about 4-to-6 MCF per month.

“This industrial rate is for plants that use large volumes of gas each month to produce a product, such as Pontotoc Springs,” Stafford said.

Under the new industrial rates, customers with a monthly usage of 5,000 MCF, or greater, can purchase gas for $1.50 per MMBTU , plus the gate cost.

Customers with a monthly gas usage greater than 3,000 MCF, but less than 5,000 MCF, can purchase gas for $2.00 per MMBTU, plus the gate cost.

“Right now, the gate cost is running about $4.52, so large volume customers would pay $6.52 per MMBTU or $6.02 per MMBTU, based on those two categories,” Stafford explained.

Stafford said the gas rate for standard customers is running $9.56 per MMBTU.

“Natural gas prices in other towns in this area like Fulton, Corinth, New Albany, Booneville and Senatobia, run between $10.50 and $13.00 for regular customers,” Stafford said.

“We’re going to keep working to keep our standard price as low as possible too,” Stafford said. “But hopefully, this industrial rate will entice another large volume gas user to locate in Pontotoc, or an existing plant to expand, or stay in Pontotoc.”

Herman Austin, alderman-at-large, voted against the industrial gas rate motion.

“I just don’t think it’s fair to all of our other customers,” Austin said. “I would be in favor of a multi-tiered system, which benefited more of our industries, not just the large volume user.”

In other business, aldermen unanimously approved to enter into a three to six month option to buy the former Ram Golf plant building on Industrial Drive.

Mayor Stafford said the city still has a lease on a portion of the original building and the remainder of the 12.5-acre facility is owned by the Hansberger estate.

“We have two prospects interested in the property and there are development incentives available if the city is involved,” Stafford explained.

Aldermen also unanimously approved a motion to spend $10,000 in tourism funds to publicize Pontotoc’s recent selection by Bloomberg Businessweek.com as the “best place in Mississippi in 2012 to raise kids.”

Stafford told aldermen that efforts are underway to formulate a publicity campaign and attain additional funds.

“Pontotoc is in the national spotlight and this is maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity to spread the word near and far,” Stafford said.

The board voted 5-0 to appropriate $15,000 in tourism funds for roof repairs and other expenditures at the Pontotoc Chamber of Commerce building.

Building inspector Terry Williamson updated the board on development of a policy regarding the procedures for filing a grievance with the city for discrimination on the basis of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Williamson, who will serve as ADA coordinator, told the board that he and city street superintendent Barry Crawford have completed a sidewalk maintenance priority list.

“For the most part, the city’s sidewalks and curbs are in good shape,” Williamson reported.

“We found 13 that were out of compliance based on slope problems and six that need work because of root or other buckle problems.

“We can fix most of this in-house,” he added.

Williamson said he is organizing an ADA committee to help identify other access problem areas.

“This committee, which will include individuals with handicaps, will help us prioritize our needs and identify places that are inaccessible,” he said.

City aldermen are expected to vote on adoption of the ADA grievance policy at their December 20 meeting.

Pontotoc aldermen unanimously accepted a low-bid of $7,102.52 from Silver Dollar Fence Company in Ecru to erect a new fence at the Pontotoc Ridge Ball Park complex.

Terry Farr, Pontotoc Park and Recreation Director, said the new fence will be erected on the south field (nearest the highway).

“They are going to tear down the old wooden fence and we’re going to square that field off and make it more accommodating for soccer and flag football,” Farr said. “It will also allow us to get four tee-ball games on that field.”