The McLean County Board joins several local government bodies in the municipal aggregation talks. (photo by Zach Dietmeier/WJBC)
By Zach Dietmeier
BLOOMINGTON - Hours after the Bloomington City Council approved a second ballot referendum for electric aggregation, the McLean County Board has decided to let its voters consider the group savings proposal.
Residents of rural unincorporated McLean County will have the opportunity during the consolidated election on April 9. The McLean County Board voted to include the measure on the ballot, but not all board members, including board member Susan Schafer, were in agreement.
"I don't believe that we need to be arranging electrical supply for our county," said Schafer. "People do this on their own with natural gas. If this were an opt-in program I might feel differently, but since this is an opt-out program I won't go along."
Fellow District 9 representative Erik Rankin said it's not the board's decision.
"You are not voting in favor of or against something, you are voting in favor of letting voters make that decison," said Rankin. "Isnt' that what democracy is about? If they choose it, great, and if they turn it down, fantastic. It's their choice. We ought to be in the business of delivering choice to our constituency."
County residents could enjoy $200 savings next year if the referndum passes in the spring.
Board vice chairman John McIntyre says it's about giving residents the opportunity.
"All we are here is a vehicle to give people the opportunity to make a decision," said McIntyre. "Our action is giving people the opportunity by putting the resolution on the ballot."
Conversely, board member Chuck Erickson said the people of District 10 haven't shown interest.
"Not one constituent has asked me to vote in favor of it," said Erickson. "As such, I believe my constituents are done with this issue and are ready to move on."
Normal, Heyworth, and Randolph Township have already approved aggregation. Those customers are expected to see savings of $200 to $300 a year.
"Probably if the county doesn't make it available for the whole unincorporated county to vote on this, other townships will try to follow suit," said County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen. "Most municipalities have already moved on this, and they have to move together."
Randolph is the only township in Illinois to band together with a municipality.
Zach Dietmeier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.