MORTON, Ill. (WMBD) – The Village of Morton is looking into ways to help residents slapped with massive heating bills after last month’s cold snap.
During its board of trustees meeting Monday, Village President Jeff Kaufman said the village is expected to spend $4.5 million for the gas purchased in February. He said the village on average spends about $4.3 million per year.
He said they have enough funds to cover the bill and are looking for ways to avoid passing the costs onto villagers.
“Fortunately, we are a non-profit public utility that currently has $13.8 million in the gas fund,” Kaufman said. “But these funds were not planned for this event but it does provide the needed cash flow to pay the monthly gas bill and also help offset the financial burden to our customers.”
Kaufman said they’ll receive the gas bill this week and they’ll be able to determine its full impact on the village and Morton Gas customers.
He said he thanks Congressman Darin Lahood, Governor J.B. Pritzker, and state senator Sally Turner for their continued efforts to assist the village.
Craig Loudermilk, Public Services Director for Morton, said after paying the bill this week, village leaders will have another meeting next week to discuss ways to reduce the financial strain on residents before sending them a bill for their gas usage in February.
“What we will discuss in a week at the board meeting is what we plan to do with rates for our citizens,” Loudermilk said. “Most likely that will be lessening the rates to be able to offset whatever amount that is from the trustees.”
He said gas bills are expected to see a jump of about 15% due to usage alone.
“We are fortunate that we can actually come up with a plan to help our citizens and I look forward to that meeting in a week when we can discuss with the six trustees here and the mayor to vote on whatever that plan is to assist our citizens,” Loudermilk said.
Loudermilk said the village avoided its gas bill climbing another $2-$3 million by conserving gas last month.
He said he also anticipates the village enduring another $3.5 million loss due to price gauging from natural gas traders, but he said they fully intend to recover those dollars.