The Athens City Council voted unanimously to re-enter a contract that will save the Gas Department thousands of dollars each year during Monday's meeting.

Athens Gas Department Manager Steve Carter gave a presentation to the Council during its work session ahead of the meeting. He said Athens has entered into an agreement with the Municipal Energy Acquisition Corporation twice previously.

Carter said the agreement allows the Athens Gas Department to purchase natural gas for 20-30 cents below the index price. He said this saves the city around $200,000 or more each year.

“This will be the third (agreement) we have done,” Carter said. “It gives us another layer of oversight, and it helps us keep our gas prices down.”

Athens first entered into the MEAC agreement in 2006. Carter said the contract renews every five-to-seven years.

Zoning ordinance

The Council held a public hearing as part of the work session where an amendment to the City of Athens Zoning Ordinance was discussed. Possible changes included the allowed distances between houses, what size lots were covered under each specific designation (such as R-1-1, etc.) and requiring builders to add some type of open space, like a small square or mini park, to major property developments.

The Council had a vote listed on the agenda for after the public hearing, but Councilman Harold Wales expressed concern about some of the adjustments. Mayor Ronnie Marks suggessed the vote on the ordinance amendment be tabled pending a work session on the topic. Council members agreed, and the vote was tabled.

Other business

The Council unanimously approved its consent agenda Monday. Included on the consent agenda were the purchase of three hosts for virtual servers to replace outdated equipment and the purchase of a bucket truck and digger for the Electric Department.

City of Athens IT Director Dale Haymon said 80% of the city's computer network runs on these servers. He said the current system is seven years old, and the new equipment should last another five-to-seven years.

Electric Department Manager Blair Davis said the bucket truck and digger purchases were to replace other items of the same type that had ended their working life with the company.

Davis said the bucket truck is expected to last for seven years, while the digger should be usable for a decade.

The Council unanimously approved accepting the low bid on a three-year contract with Reed Contracting to cover paving and striping operations for the Public Works Department. The low bid by Whitaker Contracting to handle rehabilitation of roads for Public Works was also unanimously accepted. Rehabilitation covers extending the life of existing pavement.

As part of the final item on the agenda, Councilwoman Dana Henry was appointed to serve as the city's representative on the Limestone County Planning Commission.

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