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Lubbock City Council Approves Health Department Move, Denies Natural Gas Rate Increase

Cole Shooter, KFYO.com

The City of Lubbock Health Department will move from their current building.

The Lubbock City Council approved the 5-year lease for the 5,800 square foot property at Thursday’s meeting.

The lease agreement is for $7.00 per square foot per year, coming out to $40,600, and the City will pay for utilities.

Prior to the Health Department moving from their current location at 19th Street and Texas Avenue, the new location will require $74,910 for modifications to outfit the facility for a clinic and lab.

The new facility will house the Immunization Clinic, Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic, and Communicable Disease Surveillance section.

The lease is scheduled to begin on October 1st, 2012. The City expects for the entire department to be moved by September 30th.

Three members of the City Board of Health discussed the issue, which had not been presented to the Board for their opinion. Prior to the vote, Hernandez moved to postpone consideration of the item to allow the board to consider the issue, but the motion failed.

The Council approved the resolution 6 to 1, District 1 Councilman Victor Hernandez dissenting.

Council also unanimously denied a rate increase requested by Atmos Energy.

The proposed changes would increase Atmos’ revenues in the Lubbock Rate Division by about 25.3 percent overall. Residential customers would see an increase of about 12.35 percent including the cost of gas.

The City of Lubbock hired attorney Alfred R. Herrera to serve as Special Counsel regarding this issue. Herrera and other expert consultants recommended that the City deny the proposed increase.

The Council’s backup agenda, located at www.mylubbock.us, says that the proposal is not appropriate, because Atmos’ proposal to consolidate the “historically separate rate divisions would result in the City bearing a disproportionate rate increase relative to other cities, and would not reflect the cost of service within the City.”

Also, Atmos has reportedly been unwilling to adjust its proposal to the satisfaction of the consultants.

The Council’s decision was very close to the deadline of June 22nd, at which point the proposed rates would have been deemed approved.

According to the City, costs incurred by special counsel and expert consultants are reimbursable by Atmos Energy Corporation.

The utility has the option to appeal the City’s decision to the Texas Railroad Commission.

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