LAPEL, IN - The Town Council met with representatives from Utility Safety & Design, Inc during a Special Meeting on March 14th to discuss changes with the Gas Company.
USDI presented two proposals although the Council was only interested in one. The one proposal of interest would see USDI take over day to day maintenance and management of the Gas Company. The Town would still own the Gas Company, the Town would still generate revenue from billing gas usage BUT USDI would manage it.
For what amounts to $14 per gas meter (786) per month (12) at a total cost of $132,048 per year USDI will perform the above function.
USDI will hire one full time employee that will effectively work out of Lapel, and a second part time employee to provide cover when the first was unavailable such as on vacation or sick.
USDI would need a base of operations in Lapel and would expect the Town of Lapel to provide a work space such as a small office.
The Town Council would move the Town employee that currently oversees the Gas company back to the general utility department so no Town employees would lose their jobs over this proposed change.
Expected savings from this proposal include wages as the Town was expecting to have to hire at least one other person to help manage the Gas company. Savings from time spent on processes, training, certifications and reports that the Town would no longer have to do as USDI would be doing the work.
The Town is also considering potential savings on Insurance as the Gas company has to have special insurance and higher premiums.
Early talks suggest Utility customers may see a rise in the minimum gas fee from $4.98 to something closer to $20 to offset the cost. The Town Council has been discussing raising utility rates this year and is working on a rate study that may yield more exact figures.
The Town Council will vote on this proposal at the Town Meeting on Thursday 16th, and if approved it could be implemented within 3 months.
There were also discussions about extending the Gas line from 400 South all the way down SR 13 as far as possible to be in a good position to provide utility services to any new development coming into the area.