New Council Members Question Propane Prices

Downtown Blue Ridge, Featured

Appalachian Propane has been the previous supplier for gas for the city of Blue Ridge and its employees for the last several years. Last calendar year, the city of Blue Ridge put out a bid for gas—as per usual—and where they normally get at least three bids back, this time, they only received one bid from Appalachian Propane.

While discussing Appalachian Propane’s bid, new council members wondered aloud what the current rate was. Now, the city has the option to not reveal the single bid so that they may rebid, however, the city council and Mayor Donna Whitener decided to publicly state the amount of the single bid. Had the newer council members known this, they may not have asked to hear the current rate.

Even though propane prices are based on an open market, some council members were unsure about the current propane rates. This year’s propane price is $1.44 for City and $1.54 for employees.

Council member Nathan Fitz asked, “And what was last years rate?”

After some digging, Finance Director Alicia Stewart found the price which was reported as $1.04.

Council member Ken Gaddis asked, “Can we do that again [send out another bid]?”

Council member Rhonda Haight responded, “To be honest, it wouldn’t really be fair if you went back and asked for a lower rate now, but what you could do is hold off and renegotiate. Call the owner and see if he would renegotiate this. If not, just, it is what it is.”

Council member Ken Gaddis replied, “So can we table it and reach out to them and see if there’s any other rates we can do?”

Council member Haight responded, “We could actually make a motion probably to do it at this rate or a lower rate, but then, he wouldn’t change it would he? [after a comment within the council] Yeah, I’m recused.”

Council member Fitz made the motion, “Okay, I’m going make a motion that we table the propane gas 2018-19 quote until next month.”

Council member Gaddis second’ the motion and then they discussed whether or not there was an ‘official’ contract between Appalachian Propane and the city of Blue Ridge.

A city official responded that there may not be a contract because Blue Ridge usually goes with the bid that offers lowest rate.

Where will the Blue Ridge Council members go from here? Stay tuned for next month’s council meeting.

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