Jasper City Council possibly saves nearly 90 manufacturing jobs
The Jasper City Council took measures on Tuesday which, if all goes as planned, will possibly save almost 90 manufacturing jobs in the city at four different companies. The action came in a specially called noon meeting at City Hall, in which council discussed industrial electric rates.
According to Councilwoman Hazel Johnson and Mayor Randy Sayers, at issue were three companies which were dealing with high electrical rates and were in danger of closing shop. Johnson and Sayers noted that the closure of one of those businesses would indirectly affect a fourth company, and could possibly result in its demise.
Those three companies are Lincoln Lumber Company, Terra BioChem, and Traeger Wood Pellet Grills, and the fourth company is Eastex Fiber Board, which supplies product to Traeger and partially depends upon its existence.
According to Johnson, Lincoln, Terra, and Traeger had each been paying an electric rate of .108 cents per kilowatt hour under the industrial rate category, which had been pushing their electric bills up to astronomical figures.
Sayers said that council voted to create a new manufacturing rate category, which those three companies would fall under, and their electric rate will be dropped 26% to .080 cents per kilowatt hour.
Johnson and Sayers said that Lincoln, Terra, and Traeger employ a combined total of 78 people and Eastex employees about 10 people.
However, Councilman Mitch McMillon cautioned that reducing the electric rate does not guarantee that the companies will choose to stay put in Jasper, but all agreed that it’s a step in the right direction.
According to City Manager Denise Kelley, the changes do not affect commercial or residential rates. Kelley said those rates fluctuate very slightly each month, and are currently .119 per kilowatt hour for residential and .126 per kilowatt hour for commercial.
According to Kelley, the rate for the newly created manufacturing category will go into effect on Oct. 1.