Mesquite will help a downtown business group reduce the cost of its outdoor lighting by letting it use city electric meters.
Lights were installed about six years ago to enhance Mesquite's downtown square. Old Town Mesquite Inc. has been paying about $6,000 per year in electric bills for the lighting, said Jennifer Vidler, a longtime business owner and group member.
"It seemed like the Old Town group was working primarily to pay a light bill when we were trying to do other things,” she said.
With rising electric costs, Old Town Mesquite could barely keep up with the costs and asked the city for help.
"It's been a three-year process, but Rome wasn't built in a day,” Vidler said.
On Monday night, the city decided to help the group reduce its electric costs by letting it use some of the city's hundreds of electric meters. The electricity will be billed at a reduced rate, and the group will pay the city.
"Anytime we can partner with the group trying to promote opportunities and commerce downtown, we're going to look for opportunities to help,” said Cliff Keheley, of the city of Mesquite. “And this is one way we could help and not spend any public funds.”
Vidler estimated that Old Town Mesquite would save on a third of their costs with the agreement - money it can invest in much-needed downtown redevelopment.
"This is the heart of Mesquite," she said. "The downtown square is the heart of Mesquite. It's just one step starting on many projects we'd like to see down here."
Old Town Mesquite and the city are still finalizing the terms of the agreement.