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updated: 12/12/2011 11:44 PM

Barrington area divided on electricity referendum

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As many other Northwest suburbs already have, the seven villages of the Barrington area are in the process of deciding whether to put on their March 20 ballots a referendum question authorizing them to negotiate with electricity suppliers others than ComEd.

Barrington trustees Tuesday voted to put the referendum on their residents' primary ballots, just as trustees in Barrington Hills and South Barrington recently have.

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Officials in Deer Park, North Barrington and Tower Lakes are set to consider the issue later this month, but Lake Barrington trustees have already chosen not to adopt a referendum question.

Lake Barrington Village Attorney James Bateman said the reason for trustees' decision was that the gated senior community of Lake Barrington Shores -- which makes up a significant portion of the village's population -- already has a specific cost-saving deal with ComEd that could not be improved by opting out of it.

Though North Barrington and Tower Lakes have yet to discuss the referendum, both North Barrington Village Administrator Kathy Nelander and Tower Lakes Village President Kathleen Leitner said there hasn't been much interest or enthusiasm about it expressed in their communities so far.

Barrington Village President Karen Darch and Village Manager Jeff Lawler said Monday that there really is no drawback for any community to put the question on the ballot. Though voter approval would grant the municipality authority to seek a supplier other than ComEd, it still would not force such action if no other company could be found to offer better rates.

While this should be as true for smaller communities as larger ones, Lawler suggested that some smaller towns might have concerns about their staffing levels being up to the task of researching other suppliers and reporting the results back to residents.

For all the potential cost savings to residents, Lawler acknowledged that there would be some work involved on the part of village staff if voters approved the ballot question.

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