Public Hearing Feb. 14 on Hamilton Gas Utility

(Hamilton, NY – Feb. 2012) At its Feb. 14 meeting at 7 p.m. in the village courthouse (60 Montgomery St.), Hamiltonʼs Village Board of Trustees will hear public comments on the proposal to establish a municipal gas utility for the village. Following the public hearing, the board anticipates acting on legislation that, if passed, would establish the gas utility, subject to ratification by a vote of registered village voters.

If the legislation is enacted by the Board at its Feb. 14 meeting, the mandatory referendum required to establish the utility would be scheduled April 17. Any voter registered to vote in the village of Hamilton would be eligible to vote on the referendum.

A simple majority will determine the outcome.

By unanimous vote at its January 10 meeting, the board started the formal process of implementing a gas utility when it established the village as the lead agency for a required environmental quality review (SEQR) of the project.

On Feb. 1, the village mailed a circular describing the proposed project to all voters eligible to participate in the referendum. Copies of the circular are available at the Village Office and at several locations in downtown Hamilton.

The municipal gas utility that is being considered would be responsible for negotiating with suppliers, overseeing the construction and operation of facilities to pipe natural gas into the village and dealing with gas customers. It would be similar in function and composition to the municipal electric facility that has operated in Hamilton since 1895.

A feasibility study conducted for the village cited three favorable conditions for establishing a gas utility:

• The ready availability of gas from major pipelines within eight miles (Tennessee Gas Pipeline and Dominion Transmissionʼs pipeline both follow Route 20 north of the village);

• The presence within the village of three potential major users who have expressed interest in converting to gas (Hamilton Central School, Community Memorial Hospital and Colgate University); and

• The villageʼs experience in successfully operating municipal utilities for electricity, water, wastewater and a municipal airport.

Mayor Margaret Miller and Village Administrator Sean Graham have been meeting with local committees and service clubs to explain the project. They expect to schedule a public discussion of the project in a “Village Hall” format at a time and location to be announced.

Miller said the project could be undertaken at no expense to village taxpayers and would be financed by municipal bonds that would be repaid with proceeds from the sale of gas.

Because gas is the least expensive source of readily available energy, she said converting would save operating expenses for users. Having the less expensive energy source available is also an attraction for businesses that might consider locating in the village, she said.

Graham said the availability of gas would contribute to improved air quality in Hamilton, since gas creates fewer emissions than other fossil fuels currently being burned in the village.

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