MIDLOTHIAN — A five-percent increase in street lighting rates was one of the many agenda items passed during the most recent session of the Midlothian City Council.

The proposed service delivery rate increase from Oncor rate increase is scheduled to take effect on April 21 and was suspended by a unanimous vote.

ONCOR filed an application around March 17 with cities retaining original jurisdiction seeking to increase system-wide transmission and distribution rates by $317 million or approximately 7.5 percent over present revenues.

The City of Midlothian is a member of a 156-city coalition known as the Steering Committee of Cities that are served by Oncor and funded by per capita assessments. The Steering Committee has been the primary public interest advocate before the Public Utility Commission, the courts, and the legislature on electric utility regulation matters for the last 30 years.

The resolution passed by the council, authorizes the Steering Committee to act on behalf of the City of Midlothian at the local level in settlement discussions, in the preparation of a rate ordinance, on the appeal of the rate ordinance to the PUC, and on appeal to the courts.

Additionally, rate case expenses are minimized when the Steering Committee hires one set of attorneys and experts who work under the guidance and control of the Executive Committee of the Steering Committee. The company will reimburse the Steering Committee for its reasonable rate case expenses.

City of Midlothian Finance Director Ann Honza said, “The resolution suspends the April 21 effective date of the Company's rate increase for the maximum period permitted by law to allow the City — working in conjunction with the Steering Committee of Cities Served by Oncor — to evaluate the filing, determine whether the filing complies with law, and if lawful, to determine what further strategy, including settlement, to pursue.”

As an example, Honza used a residential customer consuming 1000 kWh per month and stated that user would see a bill increase of about $6.68 per month.

OTHER BUSINESS

An ordinance was considered and discussed by the council to clean up existing conflicts regarding auxiliary building ordinances. The revised ordinance implements setbacks for all structures, and to amend the standards that better reflect the rural and urban nature of the community.

Provisions included in the revised ordinance are accessory building permits being required before construction or locating an auxiliary building on a residential lot and must pass current building codes. All accessory buildings shall be constructed or located behind the principal building in the rear yard — provided, however, an accessory structure located behind an opaque fence or otherwise not visible from a public street may be located forward of the rear corner of the principal building.

The action passed unanimously

Other conditions include plumbing regulations, size and privacy requirements.

Garages and driveway ordinances were also on the council’s agenda.

To maintain adequate residential parking and to help keep vehicles out of the city’s right of ways, minimum distances and garaging requirements were established.

For the garage requirement, new residences must have a minimum of 400 square feet of garage space with a minimum garage door size of 16 feet by eight or two eight-foot by eight-foot doors.

If a homeowner encloses a garage into the dwelling living space, a garage area has to be built at the time of the enclosure.

A minimum driveway length of 25 feet was approved after considerable discussion. Members of the council were split between lengths of 20 and 25 feet.

The final 20-foot length for homes or developments not yet permitted was approved by a four-three-split decision.