Update on LDC's gas bill surcharge, Buffalo Springs Drive bridge repair: 3 takeaways from the Feb. 27 Montgomery City Council meeting

Montgomery City Council held its regular meeting Tuesday evening.

Montgomery City Council held its regular meeting Tuesday evening.

Montgomery City Council met Tuesday evening for the regularly scheduled meeting to hear departmental reports and take action on various agenda items, including approving road closures for the annual Antiques Festival and the legality of a local gas company surcharging Montgomery residents.

Here are three takeaways from theFeb. 27 meeting:
1. Road closures approved for annual Antiques Festival

Council members unanimously approved road closures for the annual Antiques Festival May 4-6, which is located in the Montgomery Historic District. College Street, McCown Street, Caroline Street and John A. Butler Street will be closed to through traffic from noon May 3—the day before the festival—to 10 p.m. May 6. The free, three-day event features vendors and boutiques selling antiques and handmade and rustic gifts.
2. Buffalo Springs Drive bridge repair, Houston Street rehabilitation update

The bridge on Buffalo Springs Drive was severely damaged by flooding in spring 2016. Since then, city officials have been working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to receive partial funding for repairs to the bridge. Demolition of the existing slope paving and damaged asphalt began Jan. 15, City Engineer Chris Roznovsky said. Although recent inclement weather caused some delays, Roznovsky said the contractor has begun construction on the bridge's concrete bulkhead and the repair is still on schedule for a mid-June completion date.

Council members also received an update on the status of the Houston Street rehabilitation. After some delay, contractors expect to begin laying asphalt paving on the project by the end of this week, Roznovsky said.
3. Surcharge placed on gas bills of Montgomery residents likely

Montgomery residents are likely responsible for paying a $20,527 utility surcharge from Local Distribution Company, the natural gas distributor for the Montgomery area, City Attorney Larry Foerster determined. LDC has stated the surcharge is reimbursement for the cost of relocating gas lines. Twice in 2017, LDC requested the city of Montgomery provide a letter of support that LDC could give to its regulating body, the Texas Railroad Commission, to gain permission to implement a surcharge to recover lost costs, according to Montgomery City Council meeting minutes.

Although council members denied the request both times, a technicality—which requires council members to state at least one of five reasons for denying a surcharge request in the meeting’s official motion—allowed LDC to implement the surcharge, Foerster said. While LDC appears to be within its rights to implement the $20,527 surcharge, the city and the company are currently working together to form a mutually beneficial resolution, Foerster said.

As of the January 2018 billing cycle, the reimbursement surcharge amount has been fully collected from roughly 150 residents living in the city of Montgomery, said Mike Swaim, member of the LDC management committee. The surcharge was placed on Montgomery residents in the third quarter of 2017, Swaim said.
By Kelly Schafler

Managing editor, South Houston

Kelly joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in June 2017 after majoring in print journalism and creative writing at the University of Houston. In March 2019, she transitioned to editor for the Lake Houston-Humble-Kingwood edition and began covering the Spring and Klein area as well in August 2020. In June 2021, Kelly was promoted to South Houston managing editor.



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