Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Columbia County News

Ellisville Fighting Back - No mandatory connection

Several local residents have formed a group to work against Columbia County's new mandatory connection utility ordinance.

From the Lake City Reporter which was sold out on Main Street by 11:30 am Tuesday. Both copies of the LCR in the Downtown Library disappeared.

Almost two dozen Lake City residents, living both inside and outside the Ellisville Utility service area, met Tuesday night at the Mason City Community Center. Their stated intention was to form a political action committee against the county's mandatory connection ordinance for the Ellisville Utility.

The purpose of the group — named Citizens Against Forced Utilities — is to "remove the mandatory utility connection and all fees associated with it," said Elaine Reeves, the group's newly elected chairwoman.

The county recently adopted two utility ordinances. One ordinance created a utility service area at Ellisville, while the other mandates utility connections for residents within adopted service areas.

"We want the mandatory connection ordinance repealed," said Toby Witt, the group's newly elected treasurer.

The group agreed to form a PAC, elected officers and agreed to start working toward gaining signatures for a petition.

The group will have to submit PAC paperwork, open a bank account, create a petition following the state election office format, hire an attorney to write the petition and then get that petition certified by the supervisor of elections, Witt said.

Reeves said CAFU is "shooting for" 3,200 signatures, but only 2,632 signatures — 7 percent of registered voters from the last general election — from three different county districts are required to complete the petition.

"It's a very attainable goal," Reeves said.

The deadline to submit the petition is noon June 18, she said.

Once it is completed and verified by the supervisor of elections, it will go before the county commission, she said. If they do not accept it, it will go on the November ballot for citizens to vote on, Reeves said.

"My biggest gripe is they (the county) didn't ask for our opinion," she said.

Tony Lambert of Lake City, a resident living within the adopted Ellisville Utility service area, said joining a group like this is critical.

"We feel like any forced government intrusion needs to be stopped to govern for the people," he said. "If the county commission feels like they can force us without any say from us, we need to make our voices heard."

Mark McRae of Lake City, a resident living outside the affected service area, said the ordinance is "wrong."

"We should not be forced to hook up to something we don't want and we should not have to pay for it," he said. "Give us our free choice. They (the government) are there to do our bidding, not force us against our will."

CAFU will hold regular meetings the first Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Bethlehem Lutheran Church on the corner of U.S. Highway 41 and County Road 349, but Reeves said a special meeting could be called before that. All citizens are welcome to attend, she said.

"We need to let them (the county commissioners) know we're not gonna sit here and take it," Reeves said.

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