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Dallas to charge Atmos more for right of way use
January 27th, 2010 9:39 AM

A majority of the Dallas City Council signaled Wednesday that they will approve an increase in the fee the city charges Atmos Energy to use city-owned right of way.

That fee increase, from 4 percent to 5 percent, will be passed on to Dallas ratepayers who will see a 1 percent rise in their monthly bills.

Council members will take a final vote on the increase next week but had announced their intentions as early as September, when, scrounging for money to close a massive deficit, they agreed to several fee bumps.

The Atmos fee will raise about $12 million for City Hall this year, with the fee increase accounting for $1.3 million in revenue.

On Wednesday, council members brought up a new concern they have with Atmos and other utilities that use city right of way.

Council members Dave Neumann, Pauline Medrano and others said that when the utilities cut up city streets to make repairs and do other work, they often don't make quality repairs.

"At the very minimum, what should happen is they should restore it in equal or better condition," Neumann said.

Medrano said the problem is common throughout the city and needs to be addressed.

"I'm sure if we went around the table here, council members would have more complaints from constituents. In many cases, the street repair is not done satisfactorily to neighborhood and constituent standards," she said.

Atmos Energy spokeswoman Susan Harris said the company will comply with all rules and regulations regarding street repair and will work with the city on any issues it has.

"If we have any isolated incidents involving street repairs, we will take care of that because we want to do the right thing," Harris said.

The city's agreement with utilities requires quality repairs, but Mayor Tom Leppert agreed that doesn't always happen in practice.

He asked city staff to brief the council on the repair process.

By RUDOLPH BUSH/ The Dallas Morning News

http://www.txcn.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/tv/stories/DN-dalcouncil_07met.ART.Central.Edition1.4bb3c30.html


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