City council votes to implement utility rate adjustment

by Todd Brooks

The Comanche Public Works Authority last Tuesday decided to tweak utility charges to residents and businesses following the advice of the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority (OMPA) chief financial officer, John VanSant.

The plan was laid out in technical terms, but city manager Chuck Ralls would later say in an interview, residents won’t notice too much of a change as far as what they are paying.

“It’s a rate restructuring, not a raise,” Ralls said.

Ralls said what it means to the average homeowner in Comanche is an increase between 30 and 90 cents per month on their bill.

The restructuring part puts more of the charges on service instead of energy consumption.

“The two main changes are the base customer charge is going up and the energy and fuel costs are going down,” Ralls said. “So your base charge, whether you use one kilowatt or a million kilowatts, you get charged a flat rate right at the beginning. So that’s going up, but then your energy and fuel costs are going down.”

It is the first rate change since 2017 for the city. Ralls said under the current system, there were basically some customers that were subsidizing other customers.

“This is trying to balance it out between all customers,” Ralls said.

The customer service rate for residential use will go from $10 to $22 a month. The commercial service rate will go from $13 to $35 and the large customer service rate will go from $13 to $100 a month.

Still, Ralls said because of the lower fuel and energy costs, some businesses will see a drop in their monthly bills.

“We have a big portion of our utility charges are for overhead, our fixed costs and our capital costs,” Ralls said. “(OMPA) wants us to try to collect that initially such as somebody’s on vacation, they don’t use any electricity, but we’ve still got to cover our fixed cost. This will be a benefit for those that conserve energy and are responsible for their usage.”

The new restructured rates go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

In other PWA business, the trustees approved a new health insurance policy for employees for a quote that came in lower than what was expected.

In the city council portion of the meeting, the council approved the amending of campsite fees, changing the monthly charge from $450 to $325.

The council voted to look into adding more bathrooms at the Field of Dreams near the north gate as league play continues to grow.

They also voted to give a one-time seasonal salary adjustment to employees and to dispose of a fire department tanker.

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