CARBONDALE — The Carbondale City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved placing the issue of electrical aggregation up for a citywide vote in November.

The referendum would affect residents and small businesses using less than 15,000 kilowatt hours of Ameren Illinois electricity in a year. Voters in Du Quoin and Pinckneyville have already approved aggregation and several other communities are mulling referendums of their own.

Mayor Joel Fritzler said he was excited about the referendum because it would give citizens a rare chance to have their voices heard on something other than choosing their elected representatives.

Councilman Chris Wissmann described aggregation as “a great thing” and he was glad the city is “taking a step forward on it” as a way to possibly lower utility bills.

The city council tabled a proposed ordinance to raise water service deposit and reconnection fees after issues arose over transfers of deposits when longtime residents with good payment histories change addresses, which was something with which Fritzler did not agree.

Councilwoman Corene McDaniel said increased deposit fees for customers in good standing were a penalty placed on them because of residents who did not pay their bills on time or skated out of town without paying their bills.

McDaniel was also concerned students arriving in the city for SIU’s fall semester would be shocked to see their deposits raised from levels they previously paid.

“I just don’t like any of this,” she said.

The city council also denied a rezoning request for property south of town on Widdows Lane after residents near the property raised concerns over increased traffic and the possibility that their quiet, rural lifestyles would be disrupted if the property was subdivided into smaller parcels at some point in the future.

Issues of city water and sewer access, as well as environmental concerns were also raised before the council denied the rezoning.

On Twitter: @DW_Norris_SI

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