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DeKalb waits on electricity ballot approval

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – Officials have decided to wait on fully approving a ballot initiative that would ask DeKalb residents whether the city should bid for electricity rates on their behalf.

The city has been exploring the program since October, saying it could save residents up to 25 percent on their electricity bills. Officials have been pushing for the question to appear on the March primary ballot.

“We’re not changing [resident’s] electricity,” Mayor Kris Povlsen said Monday night during a meeting of the DeKalb City Council. “We’re simply putting something on the ballot … that asks whether or not we should pursue this further.”

But while the program received wide support from the council during previous Committee of the Whole meetings, 4th Ward Alderman Brendon Gallagher said the city should give the community one more week to express concerns or ask questions they had about the program.

The council unanimously approved the ordinance on first reading but voted 4-3 to continue on to a final vote. Gallagher, 6th Ward Alderman Dave Baker and 7th Ward Alderwoman Monica O’Leary voted against moving it forward.

Povlsen said it would come back before the council at its next regular meeting. If approved, Povlsen said a citizen initiative would likely be formed to educate and debate the program before the March primary election.

The council also unanimously approved Fiscal Year 2013 property tax levy requests, which officials said would not go higher than what was approved for this fiscal year. The city is requesting nearly $4.2 million to fully cover municipal pension obligations, while the DeKalb Public Library is requesting nearly $1.8 million.

How that will affect residents’ tax rates is unclear. Finance Director Laura Pisarcik said the city is still waiting on its Equalized Assessed Valuation – the total value of property in the city – to be determined by the county, which could come in a few more weeks.

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