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Monday March 27th 2023

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Vote for 2B to Keep City Services Strong


Aurora Library, Chambers Branch, courtesy Roger Wolvington

Voting Yes on Boulder City Ballot Issue 2B will maintain the revenue for public safety, library, parks, human services and other important city services. Issue 2B would approve a Utility Occupation Tax to replace the franchise fee –$4.1 million in 2010–currently collected from Boulder citizens by Xcel and paid to the city.  On December 31, the franchise with Xcel expires, and Xcel will stop collecting the fee and paying it to the city. Each person serving on City Council supports a YES vote on 2B in order to replace the revenue we are losing.

We have all been paying the franchise fee to Xcel; 2B will simply replace the fee with an “Occupation Tax” of like amount— thus providing money that is critical to maintaining city services.

Passage of 2B will have no effect on your energy services. Xcel will continue to provide Boulder residents with electricity and gas after December 31. And the city will vigorously and rapidly explore how we can get our electricity–with or without Xcel–in a way that reduces carbon emissions, boosts the regional economy and provides more stable pricing. (Most readers will not need to be reminded that Xcel has been granted three rate increases by the Public Utilities Commission in the last four years.)

Last April, the city asked Xcel for a two-year extension of the franchise agreement so as to explore options for providing electricity to Boulder other than what Xcel offered in the franchise. Xcel refused to do that. If the city wanted the franchise fee money, Xcel insisted that a 20-year franchise agreement was the only way to get it. Because of the rapidly changing energy market, signing up for another 20 years did not seem to be the right course—to say the least.

Passage of 2B will end the city’s financial dependence on Xcel to collect and remit the franchise fee, by authorizing replacement revenue at no extra cost to Boulder customers. During the last few months, the city has embarked on a searching analysis of Boulder’s electricity demand, and how that demand can best be met. The driving factor is reliable electricity at reasonable cost, produced more and more with renewable resources and less and less by burning fossil fuels.

The citizens of Boulder have voted overwhelmingly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and city leaders have been working hard to accomplishing this goal. We are doing something that few other cities have done: taking the steps necessary to create a side-by-side, transparent comparison of the costs and benefits of obtaining electricity through competing avenues. Will that be through a 20-year franchise? Or will it be some new arrangement or new sourcing of energy, creating value for customers, the community and the planet?

It is a good time to be a buyer—like Boulder—of electricity. There is excess generating capacity, and so when the franchise with Xcel expires, we are presented with the classic free market opportunity: exploring what the competition can provide in the way of products, pricing and reliability.

If 2B does not pass, there will be cuts in every department: Arts, Planning, Pearl Street Mall, Fire, Human Services, IT, Administration, Library, Open Space, Parks, Police and Public Works. By voting YES on 2B, you will enable the city to end its financial dependence on Xcel.

By voting YES on 2B, you will assure that the city can maintain the same high level of services that people expect of this remarkable city that is first on so many published lists calling out our character, qualities and spirit—education, entrepreneurship, cycling, caring, business and careers, stewardship, and best for the next decade. You can further help your city by voting YES on an additional revenue measure—Ballot Issue 2A—that will raise an additional $1 million per year for the city’s general fund by increasing the Accommodations Tax that is assessed only against overnight lodging.

By voting YES on 2B and YES on 2A, you will join a majority of Boulder’s citizens who have continuously fought to maintain the quality of life and services in Boulder. Please join us! Vote YES on 2B and 2A.

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