North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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February 26, 2014

Update: Lowery, Phillips haggle over Fultondale Gas Board contract with Gardendale

GARDENDALE — [Note: This story updates a previous article about the Fultondale Gas Board's contract with the city of Gardendale, adding Gardendale Mayor Othell Phillips' replies to Fultondale Mayor Jim Lowery's assertions about the board's service.]

Fultondale mayor Jim Lowery wants Gardendale residents to know one thing: Their natural gas service is not being cut off.

Lowery, who also serves as superintendent of the city-owned Fultondale Gas Board, said he had fielded phone calls all day from worried gas customers after news broke about the Gardendale City Council’s plans to issue a request for proposals for gas service to city residents.

That move came after Lowery sent a registered letter to the Gardendale city clerk, with copies to Mayor Othell Phillips and all members of the council.

The letter, dated June 21, 2013, and stamped as being received by Gardendale the next day, informed the Gardendale City Council that the franchise agreement would not automatically renew. It also says that gas board members were looking forward to meeting with city leaders in order to renew the agreement.

The letter is signed by Lowery in his capacity as superintendent.

He said the city council has yet to respond to the letter in order to work out a new agreement, but the attorneys for Gardendale and Fultondale have met to discuss the issue.

“We have provided service for Gardendale customers since 1959, and we’re going to continue to serve our customers,” Lowery said. “I think a new franchise agreement can be renewed easily.”

Gardendale Mayor Othell Phillips said his only concern is to look out for the citizens of Gardendale.

“The item of contention is that they’re wanting to remove the 2.5 percent cap on Gardendale rate payers,” Phillips said.

The gas board’s current franchise agreement calls for rates to be set at no more than 2.5 percent above that charged to similar customers by Alagasco, the state’s largest gas utility.

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