April 9, 2009

Natural gas going on the ballot

The North Dakota Century Code requires that before a city may own or lease from others a natural gas pipeline distribution system, "the proposition to so lease must be placed on the ballot of a municipal election."

Thus, Hazen residents will vote in a special election Tuesday, June 9 to decide if they want the city to enter into an agreement that would allow them to lease or own a natural gas distribution system.

The resolution for the vote was passed unanimously by the Hazen City Commission Monday.

The ballot will read: "Shall the city of Hazen form a municipal utility for the purpose of owning or leasing a natural gas pipeline distribution system within the city of Hazen?"

Eligible voters may apply for an absentee ballot by contacting City Auditor Sandy Bohrer. Beulah voters will be deciding that same issue at polls in the city as well. Approval of the issue will require a simple majority in both cities.

The Hazen School Board election is also scheduled for that day.

Hazen’s survey of the citizens conducted in mid-March found that out of 303 respondents, 54 percent responded yes, they would be in favor of the city establishing a municipal natural gas utility. Though when asked if they would consider such a service in their own home, 58 percent said no. The most common reason cited for not using the service was that they are already using electric heat in their home.

For the city of Hazen to get natural gas, the utility must be owned by the city.

Beulah released the results of a recent survey of Beulah residents at the City Council meeting Monday night. The results showed that of the 1,351 surveys mailed out, 28 percent were returned with 70 percent of those responding in favor of natural gas service. Twenty-three percent were opposed with 7 percent saying they were undecided.

Spring taking toll

City Street Commissioner Mike Peterson reported the city has a spot near the city shop for residents to return sandbags – though he advises them not to rush.

"I advise people not to get into a hurry to bring sandbags back. There is an appreciable amount of snow out there still. The river is down in its banks and looking docile right now, but that could change with a significant amount of snowmelt."

Peterson thanked Hazen citizens for their patience following the last few snowfalls. The city has run out of accessible spots to dump the snow, he said, so much of it has remained windrowed in the middles of the streets. Peterson said city crews might try flattening a few snow windrows to speed their melt.

In other street business, the commission approved an expenditure of $756 for asphalt cold patch to fix up some holes that have opened up along Hazen’s streets.

"It’s fairly obvious our streets took a pounding from snow removal," Peterson said. "We need to get on the ball and fill those up."

Commissioner Ken Link noted that cheaper "plastic" patch has proved brittle over time, he said, while patch with higher tar content – although messier during the summer months – has proved more durable.

The Weather Network