We have been approached by many of our customers regarding this year’s Ballot Question. To help answer those questions, we have compiled the following list of FAQs.
What is the Ballot Question?
All City residents will see the following question on their ballot.
“Shall the Public Utility Commission be abolished?”
A "No" vote will keep all direct oversight and responsibilities with the Princeton Public Utilities Commission whose members are appointed by the City Council.
A “Yes” vote will abolish the Princeton Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and transfer all direct oversight and responsibilities to the Princeton City Council.
What does Princeton Public Utilities do?
Princeton Public Utilities provides electricity and water to a variety of customers both inside and outside of city limits. Princeton Public Utilities is a not-for-profit municipal utility organized under the City of Princeton. Princeton Public Utilities does not have shareholders and therefore all revenues are used for the benefit of the community.
Princeton Public Utilities’ finances and operations are independent of the City of Princeton. The Princeton Public Utilities Commission, appointed by the City Council, provides oversight and guidance over all Princeton Public Utilities policies, finances, and operations.
How long has the Princeton Public Utilities Commission (PUC) managed Princeton Public Utilities?
The Commission was established when Princeton Public Utilities was first formed in 1911. It has operated as a three-member Commission with staggered three year terms since the beginning. Commissioners are appointed by the City Council and must re-apply at the end of each term if they wish to continue serving.
Why was the PUC created?
The establishment of an independent department of village government was created under Minnesota State Statute (412.321) by the legislature. According to the Minnesota State Supreme Court,
The purpose was to create a water and light commission… and to clothe it with exclusive authority, acting by itself, and independently of the common council or mayor, to operate, control and manage a city water and light plant. This authority is impressed in clear and unambiguous language, and effectually creates a department of village or city government responsible only to the people. (Briggs vs. McIlraith).
The court also stated,
Here the Commission is clearly meant to be an independent department of the village government. We think the manifest object of the legislature was to place the conduct of municipal owned public business enterprises in the hands of a stable and independent body, free from the baneful influences which so often result from the frequent changes of the political complexion of an elective village council. (Village of Chisholm vs. Bergeron).
Who are the members of the PUC?
Chairman Greg Hanson, a retired businessman in International Sales at Hornady Manufacturing in Grand Island, Nebraska, is skilled in staff management, IT, and project management. Greg is a Princeton Public Utilities electric customer and lives in Princeton Township. Greg lived in Princeton and taught at South Elementary in the 1970s and retired to the area in 2014.
Commissioner Dan Erickson, President of Erickson Asphalt, Chief Manager of Railside Properties, and Business Consultant, joined the Commission to serve the community by offering his time, business experience, and knowledge. Dan is a Princeton Public Utilities electric and water customer and lives in the City of Princeton. Dan has lived and worked in Princeton for over 30 years.
Commissioner Richard Schwartz, Owner of Princeton Partnership with several rental properties in Princeton, is skilled in business, finance, business management, and operations. Richard also has a strong electronic/electrical and accounting background. Richard is a Princeton Public Utilities electric customer and lives in Baldwin Township. Richard is a lifetime Princeton area resident.
I don’t live in town but I am a Princeton Public Utilities customer, do I get to vote on this question?
No, the question will only be on the ballot for those that live within city limits.
Will my rates go up or down?
The ballot question is regarding the transfer of direct decision making from the Princeton Public Utilities Commission to the City Council. If the Ballot Question is approved, the City Council would determine all future rates. If the Ballot Question is denied, the PUC would continue to establish electric and water rates for its customers.