January 30, 2003
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Village Council business—
Council plan to supply natural gas to be placed on May ballot

Village Council last week unanimously agreed to seek voter approval to become a natural gas supplier here.

The move will place on the May 6 primary ballot a proposal that, if approved, would give the Village the authority to start a natural aggregation program.

Under the program, the Village would serve as a governmental aggregator, which involves choosing an outside natural gas supplier for Yellow Springs and negotiating gas rates on behalf of local residents.

The Village would participate in “opt-out aggregation,” a program in which all local residents are automatically enrolled in the Village’s buying group. Residents would have the option of not participating in the Village’s program by opting out of it. Those residents would then be able to choose their own natural gas supplier. Anyone enrolled in the buying group would be allowed to drop out every two years without paying a fee.

Even if the Village gets into the natural gas business, it would not have to provide infrastructure or billing services. Vectren would continue to maintain the natural gas lines around town and bill Yellow Springs residents for natural gas.

If voters approve the issue in May, the Village would work with AMPO, Inc., an affiliate of American Municipal Power of Ohio, the Village’s wholesale electricity supplier, to negotiate supply contracts.

At its meeting Jan. 21, Council approved an ordinance placing the proposal on the ballot. Council president Tony Arnett indicated that Council was endorsing the issue. “I wouldn’t have a problem with an issue Council is putting on the ballot,” he said.

Both Council member George Pitstick and Village Manager Rob Hillard said that there is little “downside” to the Village’s wish to become an aggregator. Hillard recommended that Council place the gas plan on the ballot.

Several officials, including Greg Sloan, the general manager of AMPO, said the Village would likely be able to negotiate a better rate for natural gas.

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In other Council business:

• Hillard gave a report on the Village Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund, a business loan used as gap financing. The Village currently has active loans with Euphorbia Landscape and the Gypsy Cafe.

Euphorbia owes $18,600 on its $30,000 loan, which it initially received in 2001. Euphorbia last made a payment in October, though it is ahead of its payment schedule, Hillard reported.

The Gypsy Cafe owes all of its $50,000 loan, which it received in 2000. The restaurant has paid $2,500 in interest, but it has not made a payment since last June, Hillard reported. Hillard said that the restaurant would make regular payments starting in February.

Hillard also reported that $312,700 is available from the Revolving Loan Fund, and that the Village did not receive any loan applications last year.

Council members said that the Village should find more creative ways to use the money in the fund. “We need to find some ways to make that money work for us,” Arnett said.

• Council unanimously approved a resolution to pay $300 in dues for 2003 to the Miami Valley Hazardous Materials Response Team.

• Hillard reported that the Police Department will conduct a traffic study on Dayton Street, focusing on traffic speed and large trucks traveling on the street. The results are expected to be completed in time for Council’s next meeting, Feb. 3.


—Robert Mihalek