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HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Millersburg power: Voters seek role

Written July 24th, 2014 by Hasso Hering
A hearing on the Millersburg power proposal drew a crowd in May.

A hearing on the Millersburg power proposal drew a crowd in May.

The Millersburg struggle about electric power is about to enter a new phase, one that seeks to get the voters involved. The struggle is between ATI Wah Chang, the town’s main industry and largest power consumer, which wants Millersburg to take over the electric system, and Pacific Power, which does not want to give it up. Three residents now have filed a proposed initiative that would require an election and the voters’ approval before the city council could borrow money, including the millions it would take to compensate the utility for its Millersburg system.

Craig Ziegenhagel, an outspoken opponent of forming a municipal utility, announced Thursday that he and two others had filed the proposed amendment to the Millersburg city charter on Wednesday. They would need about 150 signatures — 15 percent of the city’s roughly 1,000 voters — to force an election.

The other two petitioners are Victoria Miller and Nancy Lucht. Ziegenhagel tells me it was Miller who came up with the initiative, which is similar to one passed in Albany. “We as well as other members in the community have felt that the City Council is not listening to its citizens. Pacific Power did not suggest this initiative action in anyway,” he wrote in an email.

He went on: “‘Millersburg Residents for a Responsible Government’ is a group of Millersburg residents. That said, we’ve never dealt with a complex process like this, so we have reached out to Pacific Power about this effort. We also hope to receive local financial support for the campaign. I will add that one fact that has been overlooked at times is that Pacific Power is also a member of this community and a constituent of the city council.”

The utility’s regional operations center is in Millersburg.

Once the city has approved a ballot title, the group can start gathering signatures. The petitioners are looking for citizen involvement, Ziegenhagel says. People can reach them by email at millersburgresponsiblegov@gmail.com.

On July 8, the Millersburg council agreed to form a six-member committee to write an “implementation plan” for how the city would go about taking over the power system. On Monday City administrator Barbara Castillo told me she had not heard whether the committee had been formed. (hh)



3 responses to “Millersburg power: Voters seek role”

  1. Craid Ziegenhagel responded via Facebook because some technical snag kept him from using this reply feature: “I do not believe as stated that; ‘The struggle is between ATI Wah Chang, the town’s main industry and largest power consumer, which wants Millersburg to take over the electric system, and Pacific Power, which does not want to give it up.’ I believe the “struggle” is between a City Council (that has been swayed by Wah Chang) and the Citizen’s of Millersburg. We have been asking frequently that we want to vote on a proposed MUD. There is nothing stopping the Council from philosophically stating that if we plan to go forward with a MUD project that we will first allow a vote of the citizens. They have not been willing to make this commitment. Some of us also believe that that the City Council has not listened to its citizens. After the overwhelming negative feedback the council received at the two public meetings and in city council meetings, there are quite a few people that believed the council would actually table this issue. They have not. We want a more responsible government. We are a small town and our government should listen to us, the voters, their neighbors, their taxpayers. This initiative if approved just gives the public the right to vote on proposed debt and borrowing. Having the right to vote is a cornerstone of this country and we are hoping for more involvement from residences and Millersburg businesses.”

  2. Victoria A. Miller replied via email: “I have followed your blog and miss your presence at the local paper. Thank you for your interest in our City and it’s ongoing struggle to have the right to vote. Having said that I am fully invested in seeing that the people of Millersburg have a say in financial proposals that involve them as directly as this MUD. There are two things that I am most passionate about: 1 is family and 2 is the rights afforded me as an American citizen through the blood sacrifices of our men and women of the military. When an entity such as our own city council messes with either of these I become very serious. Thank you for your perspective on this subject and many more. Am checking out the dog park tomorrow.”

  3. Gloria Price says:

    Thank you HH for keeping us informed on many subjects, but especially on the situation in Millersburg. The DH has not been the same without you!
    We are willing to help with getting petitions signed in our subdivision in Millersburg.
    B and G Price

 

 
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