Village of Morton decreasing February gas bill to reduce financial burden on customers

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MORTON, Ill. (WMBD) – Morton leaders say they’ll be fronting a chunk of the village’s high February gas bill to offer customers some relief.

During Monday’s board of trustees special meeting, members said February’s winter weather along with price gouging from natural gas suppliers led to a $4.3 million gas bill for the village. Leaders said that’s around how much they pay for gas per year.

Board members said they decided to dip into the village’s Natural Gas Fund to pay a portion of that bill so residents won’t feel the full impact.

Craig Loudermilk, Public Services Director for Morton, said the village will pay $2.6 million of the bill, which is 61% of February’s purchased gas bill. He said customers’ portion of the bill will go out in a few days.

“So, the residents will see a minimum of 47% increase on their bill,” Loudermilk said. “I think that’s expected when you’re dealing with polar vortex events, you can expect all that incremental gas to be 2-3 times higher so that would be the approximate they’ll expect this time.”

He said the conservation efforts from businesses and residents helped lower the final bill by approximately $2-3 million dollars and they’re fortunate to be a non-profit public utility with funds to assist during unexpected times.

“We’ve worked very hard to have a gas reserve fund, not necessarily for this, but we’re fortunate that we’ve got the money to give $2.6 million back to offset that from our citizens’ bills,” Loudermilk said. “They will see that as a credit on their bill. so they will see how much we saved them tonight.”

Loudermilk said the village will continuously look for ways, and weigh the risks, to prevent events like this from happening again.

“We’ll continue to work hard and hopefully we can find methods,” Loudermilk said. “We do hope the federal government will also get involved to make sure market manipulation doesn’t happen and affect the utilities.”

During the meeting, the village also unanimously voted to wave the liquor license fees for certain liquor license holders to help businesses and restaurants recovering from the pandemic.

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