Four referenda on county ballot

There will be four referenda on the April 9 ballot in Piatt County, including one asking Atwood-Hammond voters to dissolve the school district and annex into the Arthur district.

A Committee of Ten – five residents from each school district – have been meeting to map out what the reorganized school district could look like.

“For this type of reorganization, these kinds of meetings are not required, but we thought it would be a good opportunity to get information out so they know what they might be voting for,” said Atwood-Hammond Superintendent Kenny Schwengel.

“The idea would be that toward the end of February they’d put out some sort of flyer or bulletin that outlines the points and gives an idea of what an annexed district looks like,” he added.

The next Committee of Ten meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13 in the Arthur High School cafeteria. There is also a session set for 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25 at the Atwood-Hammond Elementary School in Atwood.

The committee has five subcommittees: Curriculum, extra-curricular, finance, transportation, and building and grounds.

Financial issues and declining enrollment led to the Atwood-Hammond School Board placing the referenda on the ballot. At the current rate of deficit spending, the district’s education fund could be depleted in about two years.

Enrollment this fall was 388 students overall, down 27 from five years earlier. High School enrollment was 120 at the start of the 2012-13 school year, a 10-student drop from a year ago.

If voters in both the Atwood-Hammond and Arthur school districts approve annexation, it would go into effect in July of 2014. The issue is on the ballot in five counties: Piatt, Moultrie, Douglas, Champaign, and Coles.

Electricity provider in Monticello
Voters in the City of Monticello will get the chance to purchase electricity from a firm other than Ameren if they vote for municipal aggregation. The ballot question asks “Shall the City of Monticello have the authority to arrange for the supply of electricity for its residential and small commercial retail customers who have not opted out of such program?”

Aggregation has saved users in other Illinois towns an average of 10 to 20 percent on their electric bills. If approved, the city would negotiate on behalf of residents to purchase electricity in bulk. Even if the measure is passed, residents will have two chances to opt out of aggregation and continue to purchase electricity from Ameren.

Advisory referenda
Two advisory-only referenda have been placed on the ballot by the Piatt County Board, and pertain to concealed carry of firearms and minimum lot sizes for rural home-building.

One issue asks voters “Shall the Illinois General Assembly and the Governor of the State of Illinois enact legislation to allow trained, certified and licensed law-abiding adult citizens to carry firearms for lawful purposes?”

Illinois is the only state with a concealed carry ban, and several counties have approved resolutions pushing the state to begin allowing it.

The other county-wide advisory referendum asks: “Should the current zoning regulations that require a minimum of 20 acres for any single family dwelling in agricultural zones and agricultural conservation zones be reduced?”

Some county board members feel the large lot size discourages rural home building. Others say the large lot size is a way to preserve farmland in the county.




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