College Station Utilities

New fee will help address street maintenance concerns

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By Aubrey Nettles, Special Projects Coordinator

While the results of our 2016 citizen survey last spring were enlightening, they were hardly surprising.

We weren’t at all surprised to learn that the overwhelming majority of our residents think College Station is a terrific place to live, work, and raise a family. We were proud that our overall city services got high marks, along with the value of the services you receive for your tax dollars.

When it came to what services our residents deem most important, we weren’t surprised, either. Public safety, managing traffic congestion, and maintaining our roadways and were at the top of the list.

The survey also revealed the biggest gaps between the importance and quality of our services. With our rapid growth, we weren’t surprised to see a 70-point gap between the importance (98 percent) and quality (28 percent) for managing traffic congestion.

What seized our attention was the 51-point gap for street maintenance. While 99 percent said maintaining our roads was an important service, only 48 percent gave us a good or excellent rating. That represented a 23-point drop from the 2012 survey, the biggest decline in any city service.

City council takes action

Those numbers also commanded the attention of the city council. During the FY17 budget process, the council began considering roadway maintenance fees to help address the maintenance needs of that vital infrastructure. After two public hearings and much deliberation over several months, the council voted in November to implement the fees starting Jan. 1.

The roadway maintenance fee will be paid by citizens and businesses within the city limits, based on their reasonably equitable share in the total impact on the road system. The fee will appear as a line item on your utility bill, with the revenue dedicated entirely to the maintenance and rehabilitation of our streets. That means the funds can’t be used for anything else.

Many cities in Texas are facing the same issue of road maintenance needs outpacing property and sales tax revenue. Others with variations of a roadway maintenance fee include Bryan, Austin, Corpus Christi, Kingsville, Lampasas, Taylor, and Richwood. Our neighbors in Bryan began assessing a transportation fee in 2004 that’s improved the quality of its road system.

How much do I pay?

Travel characteristics of specific land uses were used to develop the fee schedule. For residential properties, a flat monthly rate of $7.78 will be assessed to single-family homes and $6.10 to multi-family units. Bryan residents pay $12 a month.

Non-residential properties will be placed in one of five tiers ranging from $17.23 for properties that generate little road use to $250 for properties that create the most road use. For example, a small office building is expected to cause much less traffic than a large retail business, so it pays a lower fee.


Vehicle Miles Generated/Day Monthly Charge
Non-Residential
Tier I 0 – 23.99 $17.23
Tier II 24.00 – 43.99 $38.71
Tier III 43.99 – 90.99 $74.71
Tier IV 91.00 – 223.99 $152.39
Tier V 224.00 + $250.00
Residential
Single Family Flat fee/dwelling unit $7.78
Multi-Family Flat fee/dwelling unit $6.10

What determines the non-residential tiers?

The tiers for non-residential properties are based on the amount of roadway traffic generated by the land use, the size of the property, and an industry-standard trip generation factor. The 65 land use categories for the roadway fee are consistent with other city transportation initiatives.

The size of each property depends on its land use. For example, office buildings are measured by floor area, gas stations are measured by the number of fueling positions, and hotels are measured by the number of rooms. The trip generation factor for each land use — a function of the number and length of vehicle trips — is determined by the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Trip Generation Manual.

The amount of the fee based on a final trip value derived from the property size and the trip generation factor.

Our residents made clear in the citizen survey that they expect our streets to be properly maintained and rehabilitated. In the long run, additional resources dedicated to maintenance will save taxpayer money by deferring costly reconstruction projects.

For more information, contact me at 979-764-3423 or anettles@cstx.gov.

 


15171088_10109275789026314_9222973594705679303_n1About the Author

Aubrey Nettles is in her third year as special projects coordinator in the City Manager’s Office. She previously served as executive assistant to the Fort Bend County Commission and was a management analyst for Harris County. A native of Smithville, Aubrey earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Houston in 2012 and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Texas A&M in 2010.  


 

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New thermostat rebate could lower your energy costs

Today, the Administration is announcing a new “Smart Cities” Initiative that will invest over $160 million in federal research and leverage more than 25 new technology collaborations to help local communities tackle key challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate, and improving the delivery of city services.

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thermostatBy Patrick McIntyre, CSU Energy Coordinator

It’s not exactly a news flash that Texas gets terribly hot in the summer. That’s why air conditioning is among mankind’s greatest creations.

Unfortunately, it can also be expensive.

If you’re a typical College Station resident, about half of your annual energy bill can be attributed to air conditioning. The cost of running household appliances and electronics don’t even come close.

The thermostat that controls your HVAC system can be the key to lowering your costs.

The device itself doesn’t directly consume electricity, but significant savings can be realized by reducing the run time of your system. Thanks to technological advancements, you can save energy by remotely controlling your thermostat with your smartphone. That means you can reset your connected thermostat to pre-cool your home before returning from work, or you can adjust it while on vacation.

Starting in January, College Station Utilities’ will offer $30 rebates to residential customers who purchase an eligible thermostat through the Connected Thermostat Program. All you need to do is submit an application along with a purchase receipt. Once the application is approved, we’ll credit the rebate to your utility account.

Eligible thermostat brands are Nest, Honeywell, Radio Thermostat, Ecobee, Emerson, Carrier, Schneider Electric, Lux GEO, Lockstate, Trane, Hunter, and First Alert.

The Connected Thermostat Program complements our existing programs that can help lower your electric bill:

  • The Energy Back II Rebate Program provides rebates for residential customers replacing central air conditioning systems with higher efficiency models.
  • The Residential LED Lighting Program encourages the replacement of incandescent lighting with higher efficiency LEDs (light-emitting diode) lamps. CSU will credit residential customers’ accounts $2 per LED up to a maximum rebate of $20 per customer in any 12-month period.
  • CSU also provides free, personalized commercial and residential on-site energy surveys to help you identify energy conservation measures that can further reduce your utility costs.

Download Connected Thermostat Rebate Form

Take advantage of these cost-saving programs today! If you have any questions, email me at pmcintyre@cstx.gov.

 


0000072EPAbout the Author

Patrick McIntyre is energy coordinator for College Station Utilities and is responsible for the energy conservation and key accounts programs. Pat joined CSU as a key accounts representative in 2009. He previously worked for 17 years in the manufacturing sector and eight years as a consultant with the Texas Engineering Extension Service. Pat graduated from Texas A&M in 1982 with B.S. in Industrial Distribution and has lived in the area since 1984. 

 


 

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Photo Credit: scyther5/123RF Stock Photo


5 things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

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By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (5:30 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings. Here are five items to watch:

  1. Wastewater Master Plan Update: In the workshop, the council will review the city’s updated Wastewater Master Plan, which includes demand projections and a capital improvement plan.
  2. Neighborhood Sidewalk Improvements: As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider a $203,000 contract for sidewalks on the west side of Eisenhower Street, the south side of Live Oak Street, the north side of San Saba Drive, and an ADA accessible sidewalk on the south side of Cross Street. The projects will be funded by federal Community Development Block Grants.
  3. LED Street Lighting: Also on the consent agenda is a $2.56 million contract for replacing the city’s street lights with more efficient LED (light emitting diode) fixtures.
  4. Corsair Circle Rezoning: After a public hearing, the council will consider a request to change the land use and zoning designations for about two acres on Corsair Circle just north of Pavilion Avenue. The changes would allow for the development of a hotel.
  5. SH 6-Sebesta Rezoning: After a public hearing, the council will consider a request to change the land use and zoning designations for about 18 acres south of Sebesta Road along State Highway 6. The changes would allow for commercial development.

Before the council’s executive session, the city’s employee of the year will be announced at 3:30 p.m. and honored with the other nominees at a reception. Employees with at least 20, 25, 30 and 35 years of service also will be recognized.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Ch. 19, or online. The website includes an archive of previous council meetings. We’ll post a detailed live blog on this site.

Related links:     

         


14316755_10108798313965164_2904942172107966680_nAbout the Author

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian)has been with the City of College Station since 2010. He previously served 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also done extensive volunteer work for the U.S. Olympic Committee and worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


 

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Public Power Week focuses on reliable electricity

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By Pat McIntyre, CSU Energy Coordinator

The City of College Station is recognizing the dedicated professionals of College Station Utilities and Utility Customer Service during Public Power Week, which starts Sunday and runs through Saturday, Oct. 8.

The 30th anniversary of Public Power Week is a nationwide celebration of public power’s value to its communities. The event honors the thousands of men and women across the United States who provide and maintain the electrical grid infrastructure and services known as public power.

College Station is one of 72 publicly owned utilities in Texas and is one of only five to receive national recognition as a Reliable Public Power Provider from the American Public Power Association. In 2016, more than 4.1 million Texans were served by community-owned power.

Utilities that receive the designation are among the nation’s best in reliability, safety, workforce development and system improvement. The 71 employees at CSU and the 25 at Utility Customer Service are the foundation for the reliable service and electric system infrastructure that allows our community to develop and grow.

The American Public Power Association coordinates Public Power Week. The organization represents not-for-profit, community-owned electric utilities that power homes, businesses and streets in nearly 2,000 towns and cities, serving 47 million Americans. With no divided loyalties, these utilities focus on a single mission: providing reliable electricity to the communities they serve while protecting the environment.

As we observe Public Power Week, we thank the employees at College Station Utilities and Utility Customer Service for their hard work, professionalism and the dedicated service they provide to our community every day.

Related Links

 


0000072EPAbout the Author

Patrick McIntyre is energy coordinator for College Station Utilities and is responsible for the energy conservation and key accounts programs. Pat joined CSU as a key accounts representative in 2009. He previously worked for 17 years in the manufacturing sector and eight years as a consultant with the Texas Engineering Extension Service. Pat graduated from Texas A&M in 1982 with B.S. in Industrial Distribution and has lived in the area since 1984. 

 


 

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Surge protection now can save big money later

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01-surge-protectors-groupBy Pat McIntyre, CSU Energy Coordinator

Power outages like the one we experienced Saturday can cause a lot of inconveniences and problems, particularly for expensive electronic devices that lack adequate surge protection. Home theaters, TVs, computers and sound systems are costly to replace.

What’s the best way to protect these devices?

Here are five things to consider:

  1. Power strips aren’t enough: Power strips with multiple outlets are simply an extension of your wall outlet and may not provide adequate protection. High-quality surge protectors are a relatively inexpensive way to protect your electronics.
  2. Joules matter: Protectors with at least of 400 joules of capacity are recommended. Whenever surge protection is used, it consumes capacity. Indicator lights may show that some capacity remains, but they don’t reveal how much. Think of a battery that lacks the power to start your car but will play the radio.
  3. Surge protectors wear out: The capacity of surge protectors degrades over time. They typically have a light that signals when they’re on and working, but the light doesn’t indicate the unit’s remaining useful life. How long they last depends on how much they’re needed.
  4. More outlets: Always get more surge protection outlets than you need.
  5. What’s new?: Thewirecuttercom’s pick as the best surge protector is the Tripp Lite TLP1008TEL, which stops passing power when it’s no longer effective at blocking surges.

When you consider the high price of your electronic devices, making sure you meet your surge protection needs is an easy choice to make.

Related Article:

 


0000072EPAbout the Author

Patrick McIntyre is energy coordinator for College Station Utilities and is responsible for the energy conservation and key accounts programs. Pat joined CSU as a key accounts representative in 2009. He previously worked for 17 years in the manufacturing sector and eight years as a consultant with the Texas Engineering Extension Service. Pat graduated from Texas A&M in 1982 with B.S. in Industrial Distribution and has lived in the area since 1984. 

Other blogs by Pat McIntyre


 

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Second transformer arrives at Northgate substation

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By Patrick McIntyre, CSU Energy Coordinator  

CSU received a second transformer Thursday morning at the Northgate substation the city shares with Texas A&M. The new transformer doubles the substation’s capacity and will help us stay ahead of Northgate’s growth.

Since the substation is located in a high-density area, precautions had to be taken. College Station police escorted the truck and 70-foot trailer carrying the 150,000-lb. load through a route prescribed by the Texas Department of Transportation. University police isolated the area that led to the station entrance, where a 350-ton mobile crane carefully off-loaded the transformer.

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