Truman puts PUC on chopping block

TRUMAN — In a special election Tuesday night, Truman residents voted 125-40 to abolish its Public Utilities Commission.

There was just one question on the ballot: “Shall the Public Utilities Commission be abolished?” and 165 votes were cast.

Three voting members make up the PUC: Kathy Hendricksen, Ron Kelley and Darla Wiederhoeft. They are responsible for planning, organizing and managing all activities and operations of the public utilities.

City Council members made it clear that abolishing the PUC is not getting rid of Truman Public Utilities, as it will still exist under the direction of the five council members.

After the vote, Hendricksen, who is also a City Council member, said, “The outcome of the election has shown what the residents want and now we have to respect that outcome and work together.”

Hendricksen noted that after 81 years, there will no longer be a Public Utilities Commission. The responsibility will now fall on council members.

Hendricksen admitted she really does not know what will happen next. The council has held several work sessions prior to the vote to discuss what would happen in the case of the PUC being abolished.

“Hopefully somebody has it all down for our next council meeting. Thirty days after the election, the city has to take it over,” said Hendricksen, adding that she suspects the council will hold additional special meetings for a while to get things such as banking and bonds in order.

“There’s a lot of paperwork that’s going to be coming up. There will be more of a time commitment to understand all of this,” Hendricksen said.

The decision to hold a special election and put the fate of the PUC in the hands of citizens came from the council, which discussed the matter at length in May. Ongoing problems and miscommunication between the two entities led the council to make the decision.