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County discusses possible referendum

PRINCETON — The Bureau County Board is discussing whether to put an electrical aggregation referendum on the April 2013 ballot for voters in unincorporated areas of the county.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, Law Committee Chairman Mary Jane Marini said Rock River Energy Services representative Chuck Dana met recently with the law committee and asked the county board to reconsider a possible referendum in time for the April 9, 2013, consolidation election ballot. Rock River Energy representatives had addressed the board in August asking for the electrical aggregation referendum to be placed on the November ballot, but at that time, the county board decided more time was needed to research the issue before placing it on an election ballot.

As reported earlier in the Bureau County Republican, the proposed referendum would authorize the county board to solicit bids for customers who want to participate in an electric aggregation agreement. The stated premise behind an electrical aggregation is that electric providers will bid more competitively when groups of customers band together.

In discussing the possible referendum at Tuesday’s meeting, board member Rob Pozzi asked about the cost of putting the referendum on the ballot since it would go to only voters in unincorporated areas.

In response, Bureau County Clerk Kami Hieronymus said the additional cost would be minimal because the unincorporated areas are already separated from the corporated villages due to all the village elections in April. It would simply be a matter of adding the referendum question to those unincorporated area ballots.

When asked about the expense to the county if voters approved a referendum, board chairman Dale Anderson said if voters approved the referendum, the county would have to hire a firm to go out and bid energy rates for residents in unincorporated areas.

After further discussion, Marini said the Law Committee would like more time to discuss the matter before bringing a recommendation to the board.

The county board is expected to revisit the electrical aggregation issue at its Jan. 8 meeting. A decision would have to be made by Jan. 22 in order to be placed on the April 9, 2013, consolidated election ballot

On Wednesday, Hieronymus said if the county board takes a vote to put the referendum on the ballot, the referendum would be considered binding, unless specifically stated that it was an advisory referendum.

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, board member Loretta Volker said it’s not too late for people to get their flu shots. Area hospitals have both reported flu activity so far this year.

One of the biggest myths about the flu is that a person gets the flu from a flu shot, Volker said. The vaccine cannot give a person the flu because the vaccine contains dead viruses. If someone gets flu-like symptoms soon after being vaccinated, it means they were probably exposed to the flu before getting vaccinated, she said.

The best way to avoid the flu is to practice the three Cs of Clean, Cover and Contain, Volker said. People should clean and wash their hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes and contain germs by staying home if sick, she said.

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