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Natural Gas Rates Will Stay the Same

Springfield residents will not see a hike in their natural gas rates...for now, at least. KSMU's Kristian Kriner reports.

Springfield City Council decided Monday night to table City Utilities request to charge its customers an additional 4.1 percent for natural gas.

The increase would have cost households an additional $3.91 a month and businesses an extra $14.58 a month.

The natural gas rate is about the only thing that isn't rising at the moment: the prices of bread, milk, eggs and gas at the pump are soaring nationwide.

Springfield Mayor Tom Carlson says all of that contributed to the city's decision to put the rate hike on hold for now.

"It was a timing issue. I think with the issues that are facing the community in view of the audit of City Utilities and City Government, the budget cuts we are facing, the fact that the economy is in a major slow down, perhaps a recession that the Council in balance felt that now is not the best time to be coming forward with a rate increase," Carlson said.

Carlson added he doesn't know if or when City Utilities will bring up the issue of a natural gas rate hike again.

"One thing that many Council members seem to agree about was that they would prefer to see much smaller increases as necessary as opposed to the current practice which is to not have any increase for a few years and catch up," Carlson said.

But City Utilities Spokesman Joel Alexander says CU is experiencing the same economic hardships that everyone else is.

"What we're experiencing just like anyone else is in business, and residents and the typical home owner is we see the increase costs of our daily operating supplies, equipment, materials. In addition to that with the natural gas system, we have a very little time frame to recoup those costs," Alexander said.

Alexander says City Utilities will now look at other ways to cut its budget.

"At this point it is too soon to tell what proposal we would present in the future. I'm sure something will be brought back, but as to what level that will be, what form that will take and exactly when that will be, it is too soon to tell," Alexander said.

The decision came on the eve of Earth Day.

One council member encouraged customers to do their part by conserving energy.

For KSMU News, I'm Kristian Kriner.