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City leaders are scheduled to receive and review information Thursday night regarding the possible expansion of the Princeton Public Utilities Commission.

Mayor Brad Schumacher suggested the city consider the idea of moving from a three-member commission to five members last week during a Princeton council study session.

Schumacher cited state statutes when asking the council amend its meeting agenda in order to allow City Attorney Damien Toven to complete additional research and for city staff to obtain information from the city of North Branch.

The North Branch Water and Light Commission recently expanded to five commissioners. That effort has been previously mentioned in Princeton city meetings.

Princeton voters recently defeated a controversial ballot question that would have eliminated positions held by three Princeton Public Utilities commissioners.

That ballot question read as follows: “Shall the Princeton Public Utilities Commission be abolished?”

Unofficial results posted to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website Nov. 5 showed 1,645 Princeton voters (70.72%) didn’t want to abolish the local commission that runs their electric and water utility.

A total of 681 voters (29.28%) supported the PUC ballot question in last Tuesday’s general election. Those results will be included in the Princeton City Council's canvass of election results tonight (Thursday, Nov. 12.)

If the PUC question would have passed, under state statute, positions held by Chairman Greg Hanson, Commissioner Dan Erickson, and Commissioner Richard Schwartz would have been eliminated and all PUC powers would have transferred to the Princeton City Council within 30 days of the election.

Schumacher told the Union-Times in a post-election recap interview when he was campaigning this fall, the concept of a five-member commission came up.

“I would say that 100 people, from the multiple families that I talked to, would have preferred that we would have gone to a five-person board first, before trying to abolish the commission,” Schumacher said. “Some families felt as if I had skipped a step,” he added, referring to the original PUC Nov. 3 ballot question.

Schumacher said many of those same people voted for him two years ago, because in 2018, he campaigned on a promise to increase the size of the PUC.

“I have information about moving to a five-member commission ready to give to our city attorney, so he can give a presentation to our council,” Schumacher told the Union-Times. “I can’t promise I will have everything done for our Nov. 12 meeting, but by our meeting the following Thursday, before Thanksgiving, I promise I’m going to get this done and be able to deliver this to the city council.”

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