Dave Hagen

Dave Hagen, one of Shakopee Public Utilities' supervisors, points to a pipe that collects water from three separate wells near Shakopee Area Catholic Schools off 17th Avenue. 

Shakopee voters have chosen to maintain the operation of the Shakopee Public Utilities Commission, which means Shakopee’s electric and water utility will remain an independent entity from the city.

The unofficial results from Tuesday’s general election show the measure failed with 41.34% of voters casting ballots in favor of dissolving the utility, and 58.66% of voters not in favor, or 8,312 and 11,794 votes, respectively.

The request to let voters choose whether or not to dissolve SPUC came in August amid an investigation into former Shakopee Public Utilities Manager John Crooks, who — according to the state auditor’s office — was earning more than the state salary cap allows. The discussion turned into a contentious set of disagreements between the city and utility around fees, water quality and transparency.

“With the rejection of the referendum, we want to move forward to build a stronger working relationship between the two entities,”SPUC President Deb Amundson said in an online posting. “To help facilitate this, an outside consultant may be needed.”

Though it’s fairly uncommon, Shakopee isn’t the only city in Minnesota with a separate water and utilities commission. Moorhead, Rochester, Owatonna, Elk River and Austin are some examples of city councils that don’t have jurisdiction over their utilities.

The Shakopee Public Utilities Commission is made up of five commissioners appointed by the Shakopee City Council.

Election 2020: See the results

Absentee ballots received after Election Day are set aside and not currently included in results. The courts and the Secretary of State’s office will determine whether those ballots will be included in the complete official results.

Maddie DeBilzan graduated with a journalism degree from Bethel University. She’s interned at Salon Media and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Outside of work, she sifts through Goodwill clothing racks, listens to Ben Rector's music and goes on long runs.

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