CALUMET CITY | Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush was pleased Thursday to see the City Council vote in favor of putting the issue of electricity aggregation to voters.
The council, with no debate, voted 7-0 to approve an ordinance requesting the Cook County clerk’s office place the issue on ballots for the Nov. 6 election. The proposal would let voters decide whether the city should sign on with one of the three companies licensed by the Illinois Commerce Commission to negotiate utility rates on behalf of residential consumers.
The Northern Illinois Municipal Electric Collaborative made a presentation earlier this month on the benefits of aggregation, but Qualkinbush has said the city is not committed to using that company, if voters approve the idea.
If the referendum proposal is approved, the city would have the aggregating company it chooses negotiate electricity costs. City officials say they have heard of surrounding municipalities that went with aggregation getting rates for local residents reduced by as much as 45 percent, or about $350 per individual homeowner per year.
Last month Qualkinbush said she’d like to see the issue put in the hands of local voters. That caused the council’s finance committee to recommend the idea earlier this month, which resulted in the favorable vote taken Thursday.
“I want to thank the finance committee for expediting this issue,” Qualkinbush said. "They acted swiftly on an issue that could save our residents some money.”
It would not be known until spring 2013 exactly how much would be saved by Calumet City residents on their utility bills.
South Holland, Thornton and Glenwood are among municipalities that already have approved aggregation, while the issue will be on the November ballot in Chicago Heights and Lynwood, in addition to Chicago.
In other business, the council voted 6-1 to approve an agreement with Sungard Public Sector Inc., which will be paid $179,759 to upgrade the city computer system’s software and train city personnel in its use.
Third Ward Alderman Thaddeus Jones was the lone vote against awarding the contract.
The council also voted 7-0 for an ordinance that approves a plat of resubdivision for property at 1777 River Oaks Drive. Napleton Cadillac, of Hammond, plans to relocate to that site later this year, to be paired with its existing Lincoln dealership in Calumet City.
Dealership officials are in the process of building a $5.4 million facility for the two dealerships.