By Amy Jantzen
It has been brought to my attention of late, that people are confused about what the Special Election is for that is scheduled March 3.
The ballot reads: Shall the city of Traer grant a 20 year franchise to Interstate Power & Light Company to erect, construct, reconstruct, maintain, and operate a natural gas utility within the corporate limits of the City of Traer, Iowa? Yes or No
Many have called this a re-vote. It is not a re-vote. In the last special election that happened Sept. 2007 the ballot read: (A) Shall the following public measure be adopted? Yes or No. "SHALL THE CITY OF TRAER, IN THE COUNTY OF TAMA, STATE OF IOWA, BE AUTHORIZED TO ESTABLISH A MUNICIPALLY-OWNED GASWORKS?" (B) Shall the following public measure be adopted? Yes or No. SHALL THE MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL OF THE MUNICIPALLY-OWNED GASWORKS BE PLACED IN THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE TRAER MUNICIPAL UTILITIES CONSISTING OF FIVE TRUSTEES WHO SERVE AS THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES FOR THE MUNICIPAL ELECTRIC, WATER, AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS?"
The results were: public measure A, 342 yes to 308 no, public measure B, 336 yes to 304 no. Both of these public measures passed. TMU has the citizens' of Traer approval to municipalize a gas utility and to run it.
The current special election is to determine at this time should the City Council sign a 20-year franchise with Alliant. If this Resolution passes it does not change the previous results from the election in 2007. It will only tell the City Council whether or not, at this time citizens wish to sign a franchise with Alliant. A "Yes" vote would tell the City Council that you think that it is a good idea to sign a 20-year franchise agreement with Alliant and a "No" vote would tell the City Council that you don't want a 20-year franchise agreement signed.
Whether or not we have a franchise agreement in place with Alliant does not affect our rates, in fact we have not had an agreement in place with Alliant for several years. Alliant is a regulated gas company with share holders, which means that the state determines what the rates are that can be charged for gas.
I have heard that many think that the March 3 election does not count, that it will not change the Sept. 2007 vote. You are right, it will not change the results of that election. However, it does give you the chance to let the city council know your feelings. After all, the city council are elected officials and we have put our faith in them by voting them into office to take action whichever way the election comes out. Ultimately, the decision will be up to the city council to sign an agreement or not.
If the vote is in majority to sign the franchise agreement and the council signs the franchise agreement with Alliant, steps to further investigate obtaining the system will cease. If the vote is in a majority to not sign a franchise agreement and the council does not sign an agreement with Alliant, the Board of Trustees will continue to investigate the possibility of obtaining the system.
If you find yourself still confused I understand. I have been to all the meetings and have read the appraisal cover to cover and I still find myself asking questions. All I can recommend is to keep asking questions. Don't be afraid to ask. If you don't understand any aspect of this issue, then it is not a dumb question. Besides, I have probably already asked it myself. Unless you are an employee of a utility or gas company then I doubt you understand all of this or that anyone expects you too.
I know that there are some strong feelings on this issue and this election is your time to let your voice be heard, so please make sure that you cast your vote on March 3.