Central time switch dependent on DOTAs a June 8 election approaches, Stark and Billings counties could be inching closer to operating on Central Standard Time, but this isn’t the first time the subject has been brought to a vote.
As a June 8 election approaches, Stark and Billings counties could be inching closer to operating on Central Standard Time, but this isn’t the first time the subject has been brought to a vote.
The question of whether to make the switch from Mountain Standard Time to Central Standard Time will be presented before voters in the upcoming election.
However, each county’s vote is dependant on the change moving forward, and if it passes the counties, it must pass another entity — the federal government.
If both counties vote in favor, a petition will be sent to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Once the petition is sent, DOT’s General Counsel Office reviews the request, and if they deem the change to “serve the convenience of commerce,” a proposal is made and opened for public comment.
“There’s really no sense in Billings County changing if Stark County doesn’t,” said Billings County Auditor Joan Jurgens. “There’s no reason to; we’d be an island out here by ourself on Central time and there’s no way DOT is going to approve of that.”
If Billings County passes the vote and Stark County does not, Billings County will not petition the DOT, Jurgens said.
If Stark County approves it and Billings County doesn’t, the matter is again dropped, she added.
The issue is being put on the Billings County ballot in case it passes in Stark County and is approved by the DOT.
“A lot of our residents in Billings County do their business in Stark County, in Dickinson,” Jurgens said.
The time-change matter has been on the ballot several times in the past, Jurgens said.
“If you don’t ask what the people want and then try and get it done, you’re not going to get anywhere with it,” Jurgens said.
This is not the first time-change go-around for Stark County either. In June 2000, county residents voted down the measure by about 1,000 votes, said Stark County Auditor Alice Schulz.
Further east across the state, residents of Mercer County voted in favor of changing to Central time in 2002.
A petition was then sent to the DOT, but denied on Sept. 5, 2003, because it did not “suit the convenience of commerce,” according to a DOT letter sent to the Mercer County Commission.
The topic is not dead, however.
In September of last year, the county re-petitioned the DOT to make the change.
DOT is holding a public hearing at City Hall in Hazen at 7 p.m. on Friday to tackle the topic once more.