MOULTRIE — In response to Gov. Sonny Perdue’s sales tax break on natural gas, the City of Moultrie is taking steps to ensure residential customers’ bills reflect the tax relief.

The 2 percent sales tax break applies to residential natural gas customers’ bills from the January to April billing cycles, which will be seen in the February through May bills. The tax break is expected to save Georgia taxpayers almost $20 million.

“We are pleased to be able to pass along Governor Perdue’s sales tax relief to our residential natural gas customers,” City Manager Bob Hopkins said. “This measure, coupled with our natural gas purchasing strategies and conservation efforts by customers, can help keep heating costs more manageable.”

Despite the upcoming tax relief, the city encourages customers to take steps to reduce their home energy costs through weatherization and conservation. To learn more about home energy savings tips, visit the Department of Energy’s “Energy Savers” Web site at www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/tips.

Natural gas rates are made up of costs for the gas itself and transport to the city from where it is produced, transporting gas from the city to a consumer and a minimal base charge to cover other costs, such as meter reading. The costs to transport natural gas to a home and to the city are regulated, fixed costs, but the natural gas commodity price fluctuates in reaction to supply and demand. It is the commodity price that has experienced sharp swings in price, causing anticipated higher winter heating bills for consumers.

The city collects rates based on the price it has already paid for the natural gas from its customers, and the state of Georgia collects sales tax on the total gas costs. The tax break, however, will cut the amount collected by the state in half.

Energy prices have been steadily rising in recent years, due primarily to increased demand for natural gas. Prices have also seen an increase due to slowed production in the Gulf of Mexico — due primarily to transportation disruptions caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

For more information about the sales tax relief or about the city’s natural gas service, call the city Customer Service Center at 985-5400.

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