by Michael G. Maness
The Chester City Council voted to join about twelve other cities to fight a proposed hike in gas prices at its Monday evening meeting, April 6.
Mayor C.E. Lawrence convened the council with a nearly full quorum. After reading and approval of the minutes to the previous meeting, ample consideration was given the proposed hike in gas prices that is being sought by Gulf South Pipeline System.
Magnum Gas, from whom Chester and about twelve other municipalities get their gas, has taken the lead to fight this. Some jokes were shared, but the seriousness of this brought many fears. The actual proposal by GSPS was a 267.9 percent hike! Shocking. As some council members and Lawrence commented, from their own oil and gas experiences, it was clear that GSPS will be asking for "their" price, knowing they will not get it and knowing they will likely get something. Kind of like shooting for a star and settling with the moon, and without much concern for the smaller companies.
Councilwoman Gail Williams said, "Even a ten percent hike would too much."
The council voted to join the other cities and pay their apportioned legal cost. Divided by the amount of usage among the cities joining, those using more pay more, Chester's share was estimated between $500 and $1,000 depending upon how hard the coalition has to fight.
Chester is solvent. A lively debate ensued on recent reallocations of savings. The city was able to make a little more off some CDs in Woodville and at the same time reduce risk by lowering its combined deposits in Chester below the FDIC insured cap of $250,000. Though there had been some discussion in previous meetings, the move caught the council by a bit of a surprise. As Lawrence advised, the move was made in good faith. As they chatted about options, percentiles, withdrawal penalties, consolidation, FDIC caps, long- versus short-terms gains, and, of course, what the advisers had suggested at the financial clinics for city officers, a few things became clear.
They voted to move a sizable sum back to Chester, and they will look at consolidation of some of the CDs they were maintaining for the city and the Chester Gas Company. And in bringing some back, they will free up a little to help fix the park and other things. One of the other things made clear was that each man and woman and employee was looking steadfastly after the best interests of the city's security and protecting its investment. This good sign was far above those cities that had to debate debt and credit ratings. On this spring day, they debated clear and solid solvency issues, something many larger cities could only dream about.