A three-year-old agreement which allows Pickerington residents to receive natural gas from a local company has yielded another $13,000 cash infusion to the city.

A three-year-old agreement which allows Pickerington residents to receive natural gas from a local company has yielded another $13,000 cash infusion to the city.

On March 20, Mayor Lee Gray and Pickerington City Council accepted a $13,742 check from Pickerington-based Volunteer Energy Services Inc.

The payment is the result of an agreement struck in 2009 between the company and the city, after city council approved legislation permitting Volunteer Energy to launch a natural gas aggregation program. That program allows Pickerington customers to receive natural gas from Volunteer Energy. In return, the company agreed to contribute 5 cents to the city for every 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas sold here.

The payment is not made in lieu of any taxes or fees the company is responsible for making to the city.

"My reaction to Volunteer's natural gas aggregation program, which annually provides flexibility to Pickerington's mayor and council to find ways to invest these community funds back into community, remains absolutely thankful for this appreciated support from Volunteer Energy," city manager Bill Vance said. "(It) has elevated our city's ability to creatively sustain continual improvement activities in Pickerington."

Last year, Volunteer Energy made a payment to the city through the aggregation program for the same amount as the 2012 payment.

The city donated $1,000 of the 2011 payment to a Pickerington Area Chamber of Commerce fundraiser to offset pay-to-participate fees for Pickerington Local School District students seeking to play school sports, participate in band, chorale and other school-sponsored extracurricular activities.

An additional $12,000 of the 2011 payment was used to help Olde Pickerington Village businesses and property owners.

"In 2011, the city of Pickerington used $12,000 of those same funds for the purpose of creating an Olde Village Commercial Property Revitalization Program to fund commercial exterior building improvements," Vance said. "That city program used the Volunteer Energy provided funds to create matching grants not to exceed $1,000 to generate approximately $38,000 in total public/private funded exterior improvements to commercial structures in Pickerington's Olde Village.

"Approximately 16 matching grants were funded last year in amounts that ranged from $200 to the maximum of $1,000 in most instances," he said.

Vance said it hasn't been determined how the 2012 payment from Volunteer Energy will be used. That decision, he said, will be made by Gray and council.

Whatever decision is made, city officials may receive a reduced payment from Volunteer Energy in 2013, according to city finance director Chris Schornack.

That's because a "clerical error" on the part of the company resulted in Volunteer Energy duplicating its 2011 contribution and overpaying Pickerington this year.

"It could go up (in 2013) but it will be reduced by the amount that was given in error," Schornack said. "(The company) did not have an amount immediately available regarding the error - only that it should have been less than they gave us."