Town Receives $302,488 To Settle Past Gas Bills

October 31, 2008

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The Florida Department of Corrections has settled a gas billing dispute with the Town of Century by making a $302 thousand dollar payment.

The town received the $302,488.40 check Thursday, Century Mayor Freddie McCall said, to cover back gas billings for the Century Correctional Institute.

The dispute stemmed from billing practices that dated back to 2000. Under the town’s agreement with the DOC and Century Correctional Institute, the prison was to pay for natural gas at the rate of 120 percent of the town’s actual cost. The town’s billing system would generate a bill at the normal rate, then town employees would re-rate the bill and send a new bill about 10 days later at the 120 percent rate. That adjustment was originally done twice a year based upon the rate from nine months earlier.

But in 2000, there was spike in natural gas prices,  Matt Dannheisser, the town’s attorney said, and the town went back to the DOC that agreed to pay 100 percent of the town’s cost on a monthly basis. But they did not agree to pay the 20 percent profit margin until a new agreement was reached.

Town Accountant Robert Hudson had reported to the council several months ago that the DOC owed about $569,000 in back payments. But that amount included $127,000 in interest that Dannheisser said the DOC was not willing to pay, and the DOC disputed some of the billing amounts.

The check received Thursday will be deposited into the town’s gas fund, McCall said, with the town council to make the eventual decision what to do with the funds.

“This is exciting that we finally have the money we were owed,” McCall said, “and we can move forward.”

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