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Letter to the Editor: The Benefits of Owning Our Gas Utility

October 20, 2017
Jared and Marilyn Bauch - Traer, Iowa , Traer Star-Clipper

A yes vote does not determine that the gas franchise is a good deal for Traer. A yes vote is required so we can find out the sum of money NEEDED to pay Alliant for the pipes and meters. The question then is will the income from gas bills we pay be enough to pay off the cost of the gas bond used to pay Alliant?

Our investigation and experts and the experience of other municipalities like Alton and Mapleton lead us to YES. We can buy the system and keep the profits in Traer using the rates currently set by Alliant.

How is that of benefit to you and me?

All of the employees of the City of Traer and Traer Municipal Utilities live in Traer; they own homes in Traer; their families are raised here in Traer; they attend Traer's school; they volunteer for and make better Traer's 911 emergency medical service and fire department; they volunteer, help and provide skills and services for celebration like Wind Up In Traer Days.

Traer has people with good ideas that will improve our community and folks willing and able to work and make those ideas come to life. But money is the sinews of any major project. Here are some where utility meant success:

1. Prairie West Housing Development. This was the result of a 5-way agreement among the City Council, the American Legion, the Traer Chamber of Commerce, the Traer Municipal Utilities and Traer Development Corporation. No outside developer would sink money into a Traer development. We had to do it ourselves. The Legion loaned the money to buy the land. The City Council and Traer Municipal Utilities put up the money to develop Prairie West in affordable stages to be paid back from lot sales. This has led to a large increase in our tax base as new homes are built. We have places for new homes. Prior to this project there were no building lots left in town.

2. Pied Piper Preschool and Daycare. The Iowa Economic Development office declares this service essential to attract residents and businesses. The Pied Piper Board of Directors worked with Traer Development Corporation, the City Council and Traer Municipal Utilities and a host of volunteer laborers to create the wonderful services we now enjoy.

3. The Carnegie Library renovation and expansion. This was a huge project, nearly 1.5 million dollars. We needed a State of Iowa CAT grant which requires cash on hand of a substantial percent of the project. We were fortunate in receiving a large gift from Traer Municipal Utilities reserve funds. This secured the CAT grant and consequently encouraged hundreds of our citizens, here and elsewhere, to make donations to complete this project we all use today.

4. Elm Street apartments. The City and Traer Municipal Utilities helped us acquire the land and Traer Development Corporation found a builder who would construct and rent the Elm Street apartments.

5. The Traer Theatre renovation and restoration came about from lots of hard work by citizens and some of those city employees and lots of financial help from everyone.

6. North Tama School interest free loan to retrofit lighting for energy efficiency; the reconstruction of the refreshments stand, toilets and north fence of the Dennis Field and facilities at the athletic complex. These dressed up our appearance, important to good impressions for people looking for a place to raise a family.

7. Remove and clean up the abandoned bowling alley and the severely deteriorated house trailers. Again, an appearance issue and one that may lead us to new ideas to be worked on in the future as we decide how the land might be used.

8. Salt and Pepper Museum. Now who in the world would have thought of this? But it is amazing! Have you seen it?

I see these benefits to our town when I follow the money we have because we have some profits from an electric utility and City Council and Utility Board which pay attention to quality of life issues.

The profits from a gas utility won't answer all our needs but, when considered with electric utility profits, it will make it possible for future generations to do more as they see the need. Perhaps a walking path on part of the old railroad right-of-way?

A yes vote gets us to first base where we can then seriously consider our choices about keeping the profits in Traer.


Jared & Marilyn Bauch

Traer, Iowa



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