Gas supplier seeks relief from school contract

By By Kelly Quackenbush/The Meridian Star
Jan. 26, 2001
The skyrocketing cost of propane gas is making it difficult  and unexpectedly expensive for Lauderdale County schools' supplier to meet the terms of his contract.
Chuck Sanders of Sanders Gas Company sought amendments to the contract Thursday, but Superintendent David Little indicated that wouldn't be likely unless he could show his company is in severe financial danger.
Sanders said the price of propane has essentially tripled. He delivers the product to the county schools at a price of 95 cents per gallon and proposed that the price be increased to $1.25 per gallon, which is closer to the price he must now pay to obtain the propane.
To complicate matters, the school district has passed its estimated usage for this time of year due to the unusually cold winter. Sanders must now replenish his propane supply in order to continue supplying it to the schools and, at much higher prices, he said his company stands to lose significant revenue.
Even so, after researching the possibility of changing the contract, officials said no relief could come unless Sanders Gas says the current contract will cause the company to go bankrupt, or prompt other disruptions in fulfilling any of its other contracts.
School board members said there would have to be severe circumstances in order to void the contract because the school district would have to cover the losses.
The school board could not locate another propane supplier to bid on a short term contract due to unstable prices in the propane business.
Kelly Quackenbush is a staff writer for The Meridian Star.