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Rugby goes forward with natural gas feasibility study

By Staff | Mar 11, 2016

At its regular meeting Monday evening, the Rugby City Council voted, 4-1, to go ahead with a feasibility study to potentially bring natural gas to the Rugby area.

The city approved a contract with Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson Engineering, of Bismarck, to go forward with the natural gas feasibility study. The city would fund $10,000 of the $25,000 cost of the study, with the Rugby Job Development Authority contributing $10,000 and Pierce County contributing $5,000. The study is slated to be completed by May 6 of this year.

With Ward 4 Councilman Chuck Longie and Ward 2 Councilman Dave Bednarz both absent, Ward 4 Councilman Terry Wentz was the only no vote. Wentz cited concerns of reductions in sales tax and state aid, as well as a concern of Rugby potentially not being a feasible site for natural gas, as a reason for his vote.

“My opinion is that it’s awful tough for me to go along with this at this time,” Wentz said.

Ward 2 Councilman Gary Kraft disagreed.

“There’s been a lot of talk about it,” Kraft said. “If we’re going to say ‘no’, let’s have real numbers on it.”

Ward 3 Councilman Jim Hoffert said one of the reasons for tabling the feasibility study at the council’s February meeting was that the council wanted the JDA to weigh in on it as the study’s merits seemed “nebulous.”

“We want our money’s worth,” Hoffert said. “We don’t have money to throw at an idea.”

JDA Executive Director Joseph Pelt said by going forward with the study, it would show that Rugby would be in a position to build the community.

“If we’re not going to utilize sales tax dollars for the betterment of the community, then why are we collecting them for entities?” Pelt said.

Wentz said that Rugby being in a competitive building position may not matter if Rugby taxpayers are scared by natural gas conversion and heating costs.

“Even in business, what it costs matters,” Wentz said. “I’m here to make good decisions for Rugby taxpayers.”

City Attorney Bill Hartl said that taxpayers will want to know what the costs of natural gas will be.

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