Vidalia electricity prices set to drop

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 1, 2009

VIDALIA — Despite record-setting temperatures this summer, the residents of Vidalia will stay cool.

City Manager Ken Walker and Mayor Hyram Copeland announced Tuesday that the city will be lowering its electricity rates by 5 percent.

Walker and Copeland said it was a combined effort of combing through the budget and increased sales tax revenues that allowed the city to lower the rates.

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The rate decrease will take effect the second week of July, which is the beginning of that month’s billing period.

Walker estimated that an average monthly bill for a household is $200, and with the decrease, homeowners will pay $10 less.

“We’re just trying to help the customers out,” Walker said.

In a short meeting of the aldermen, the board also adopted its $34.2 million budget.

The budget includes the major capital improvement project for 2009-2010, which will be the new City Hall complex.

The complex, which will house City Hall and the police and fire stations, is planned to sit on 10 acres of land on U.S. 84 near Walmart and adjacent to the proposed recreation complex.

“It will be an asset to the recreation complex because of the security,” Copeland said. “It’s built for the future with room to expand.”

The current police and fire stations will remain as substations.

The new complex is projected to cost $5.5 million, and Copeland requested the board approve the project so it can be presented before the state bond commission in August.

The city will be asking for a $5.5 bond but Copeland said he anticipates the project will come in lower than projected because of grants.

Once receiving various grants, Copeland and Walker have projected the project will cost the city $4,125,000.

The bond will be paid back over a 40-year period with $195,000 per annual payments.

The board approved the project with four votes, and Alderman Ricky Knapp abstained.

Knapp said he is somewhat hesitant in approving of the project.

The need to renovate each existing building — including a black mold problem in City Hall — was the genesis of the project.

Knapp said he believes the buildings could be renovated, which would be less costly.

“When you start remodeling a 50 or 60-year-old building, the costs are going to escalate,” Copeland said.

Fire Chief Jack Langston said it would be nearly impossible to renovate the fire station to meet the needs of the department.

In other business:

The board approved occupational licenses for Riverfront Royale Salon and Med Spa on Front Street and Stoud’s Hearing Healthcare Services, LLC on Carter Street.

The board also approved an occupational license and sign application for River Region Wireless, LLC.

City officials and department heads were reappointed unanimously.