Residents to Decide on Proposed Municipal Gas Utility; Public Referendum is April 17

(Hamilton, NY – April 2012) Registered voters in the village of Hamilton will go to the polls Tuesday, April 17, to decide the future of a proposal to create a municipal gas utility that would bring natural gas service into the village.

Polls will be open from noon until 9 p.m. at Hamilton Public Library, and anyone registered to vote in the village at least 10 days prior to the referendum is eligible to participate.

Applications for absentee ballots are available in the village office.

Hamilton’s Village Board unanimously approved legislation Feb. 14 to create a not-for-profit municipal gas utility charged with designing, building and operating a system to buy natural gas from third-party sources and sell it to business and residential customers locally.

The legislation is subject to ratification at the April 17 referendum.

During a March 29 public information meeting, Mayor Margaret Miller said the village board has spent nearly three years examining the prospects for bringing natural gas service into the village. She said that interest in bringing gas service into the village traced back nearly 50 years and that several earlier village administrations had considered the issue.

She said three factors made gas service particularly attractive to the board at this time: the falling price of natural gas, the proximity of national supply lines less than eight miles from the village and the strong interest of three major potential customers (Hamilton Central School, Community Memorial Hospital and Colgate University) who make the proposal financially viable.

“The board was motivated by what is best for our village, economically and environmentally,” Miller said.

She said that natural gas presented an opportunity for customers in the village to save more than half their fuel costs, depending on how they currently heat their homes and businesses.

“At the same time, natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel,” Miller said.

Speaking at the same public meeting, Village Administrator Sean Graham said that the gas utility would be financed with a bond issue, to be repaid from the sale of gas. He said that a large majority of village property owners responding to a survey had indicated interest in connecting to gas service and that the level of interest had prompted the village to accelerate its timeline for delivering gas to several neighborhoods and the downtown business district.

Graham said the village planned to buy gas from one of two national supply lines that run within eight miles of the village. A final determination on the supplier, as well as final design of the distribution routes, will take place after the referendum, if it passes.

Saying that many hours of good-faith planning have gone into the gas proposal, Miller urged village voters to take part in the referendum. She invited anyone with questions to contact her or Graham or to visit hamiltongasutility.wordpress.com.

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