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      City approves preliminary settlement agreement with Atmos Energy

      In a preliminary reading the City of Amarillo approved a settlement agreement with Atmos Energy for a nearly 15 percent rate increase.

      In a preliminary reading the City of Amarillo and Atmos Energy have come to an agreement.

      City Council Member Lilia Escajeda said, "It's just one of those business transactions that has to take place, and we think we negotiated the best deal we could get."

      In October 2013 Atmos Energy proposed a 20 percent increase, worth more than $4 million.

      At the time City Council Member Jim Simms said, the council had the option to grant the 20 percent increase or request a suspension. The city wanted answers, therefore both parties had 90 days to negotiate and settle.

      "It hasn't been a quick turnaround or anything," Escajeda said. "We had a lot of information provided and we asked a lot of questions."

      Escajeda said the city is aware that current infrastructure is in need of an update. She said as far as answers Atmos Energy provided multiple for their reasons behind the increase.

      Roy Urrutia with Atmos Energy said the main reason is growth.

      "New mains and new structures that are coming in," Urrutia said. "Also state and federal mandates on the current infrastructure that are aging, so that will offset the cost of implementing new pipes underground."

      Urrutia said on average residents can expect a $2.68 increase come April.

      The final reading will take place Tuesday, March 18, 2013.