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PORT ARTHUR NOTES: $61K of utility adjustments, Entergy rate increase request denied & more

Five water utility adjustments from residential properties and businesses totaling $61,966.32 have received approval from the Port Arthur City Council.

The utility misreadings stemmed from equipment malfunctions and leaks, according to city officials. Three of the accounts — Kemp Properties at 3130 Lake Arthur Dr., Sabine-Neches Navigation at 8180 Anchor Dr. and Lowe’s at 8383 Memorial Blvd. — have been credited for five months or more of adjustments.

“The main deficiencies came and the main reason why they are failing is because how they were put together,” Port Arthur Water Utilities Department Director Donnie Stanton said. “Hurricane Harvey aggravated that situation. That situation is being helped out by FEMA. They failed prematurely, but as far as the equipment itself, whenever we do replace it, we have a very good record of it staying fixed. Once the cables are replaced and the transmitters are replaced, the new ones don’t have a bad record of failing.”

District 4 Councilman Kenneth Marks, serving in his first regular council meeting, questioned the length of time it took city workers to detect either a leak or transmitter error.

City Manager Ron Burton responded by saying he and the utilities department should do a better job of detecting the problems.

“If we have proper coordination and collaboration between departments, we can address those concerns in a much more timely manner,” Burton said.

The adjustments (in time, gallons and total amount) and causes for each property include:

  • Lowe’s, six months, 2,592.2 gallons, $23,903,36 (property leak);
  • The Greens on Turtle Creek (3200 Turtle Creek Dr.), two months, 1,085.5 gallons, $12,188.45 (transmitter);
  • Willow Lakes Apartments (2555 95th St.), one month, 1,493.4 gallons, $12,866.61 (transmitter);
  • Kemp Properties, five months, 772 gallons, $7,555.56 (leak caused by the city); and
  • Sabine-Neches Navigation, five months, 666.5 adjusted gallons, $5,452.34 (transmitter).

In a related resolution, JetAeration of Vidor will assist the city in water utilities operation support for $75,000.

In other city business:

  • Entergy Texas was denied a request to increase customer rates in its service area by approximately $6.8 million per year. Entergy’s distribution cost recovery factor, or DCRF, rider is set to collect approximately $19.5 million per year. The company filed a request to amend the DCRF factor on Oct. 22.
  • The council has established a code enforcement committee charged with recommending changes to ordinances pertaining to code enforcement within 60 days of review. Councilpersons Charlotte Moses and Thomas Kinlaw III, along with Mayor Thurman Bartie and City Attorney Val Tizeno, will serve on the committee.

Moses, who held a 31-page document of proposed changes, introduced the committee idea to the council. The committee will let citizens know the city is making an effort to help them, she said.

  • Norris Simon Jr. was reappointed to a new five-year term in the Planning and Zoning commission. Simon has been on the commission for 12 years.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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