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Low utility revenues worry city officials

Cairo city officials are concerned about significant drops in revenues from electricity and natural gas sales.
The city council finance committee, chaired by Mayor Pro Tem James H. (Jimmy) Douglas, discussed the drop in utilities revenue Monday.
According to Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton, electric sales year over year are down 24 percent for electricity and 39 percent for natural gas.
Addleton says other cities are experiencing similar results and that Thomasville’s electric sales are down 25 percent and gas sales are down 40 percent.
Energy Services Director Rod Prince says the city is suffering from a “triple whammy” – mild winter temperatures, higher wholesale power costs, and low market demand for excess power.
City leaders are concerned that the city’s operating budget for the fiscal year that runs through June 30 may have to be revised and projects push out into subsequent fiscal years.
“Between gas and electric sales, we may have to back up on the transfers to the general fund. We may have to look at the budget and see what we planned to pay for from those transfers,” the mayor pro tem said.
The profits from the city’s enterprise funds are transferred to the general fund to finance general government over and above the $1.4 million the city takes in from ad valorem taxes.
Through January, the city’s electric revenues are down approximately $281,000 and the gas sales are off by just over $97,000.
“We are holding our own, but it is concerning,” Addleton said Monday.
Douglas is not optimistic the city can make up the lost sales unless March turns out to be either much colder or much hotter than normal.
“I don’t think we can recover our gas revenues,” Douglas said.
The city council finance director also pointed out that water revenues are continuing to decline. For the last three months water revenues have been down from the same period last year. As a result, sewer revenues are also off compared to last year.
The city manager is confident the city will be able to operate within its budget and actual revenues by managing cash flow and delaying public works projects if necessary.

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