UPDATE: Well, isn’t this something? County issue 1B is now passing by a small margin.
Well, those who were doing coffeeshop prognosticatin’ appear to have been right: Boulder Issue 2B, which replaces the Xcel franchise fee with a tax, passed easily.
The measure will keep revenue from Xcel flowing into Boulder’s budget through 2015, giving the city time to study alternative sources of energy. Options could include taking municipal control of the city’s supply of electricity, or working with Xcel on a new franchise agreement that includes more renewable sources.
“This is a clear message to Xcel,” City Councilwoman Lisa Morzel said Tuesday night. “Are you going to partner with us or not?”
County issue 1B, which would fund open space purchases with a tax increase, appeared to fail late last night, but has pulled ahead by 465 votes.
If Issue 1B fails, it will be the second time in as many years. A similar open space tax initiative was voted down in 2009 with 52 percent of voters opposing the measure. That defeat marked the first time county voters had turned down a tax to support open space since 1989.
Longmont resident Dave Larison, a longtime opponent of open space taxes, said Tuesday night that he was pleased Issue 1B appeared to be failing.
“For two years in a row now, the voters have spoken against open space taxing and spending,” he said. “The voters have sent a loud message that they don’t want any more open space.”
Though Dave and I share a name, I’m not sure the rejection means that voters don’t want any more open space so much as it means that the voters are prioritizing their taxes and open space finished behind human services in that race. In any case, there’s your greenish election 2010 roundup. Quick and painless, right? Now go listen to your phone not ring at dinner time.
Turns out this one’s a ride!
City of Boulder officials have unveiled a new contingency plan for the 2011 budget that incorporates additional cuts that would be made if voters do not replace fees Xcel has been paying the city with a tax on the utility this November:
In August, officials submitted a nearly flat budget to the City Council for 2011 that eliminates 19.74 full-time positions. The new contingency plan would cut spending by 5 percent, eliminating the equivalent of an additional 27.7 full-time jobs across all city departments.
“While there is clear support to replace the franchise fee with the utility occupation tax, it’s prudent that we take a conservative and strategic approach to 2011 in the event that the city cannot replace the franchise fee,” Brautigam said. “The contingency budget reflects careful analysis and difficult choices that must be made if we are required to cut the budget by $4.2 million.”
Naturally, the city is hoping to avoid that — City Council announced their support for 2B, the ballot issue that would replace the Xcel fees, in a resolution on Sept. 7 (PDF).
Not everybody is happy about to Colorado Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act, which “requires Xcel to cut nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 80 percent from several Front Range coal plants by the end of 2017, most likely sooner.”
GRAND JUNCTION — Legislation aimed at cleaning up Denvers air and turning Colorado into a model state for clean energy and jobs is feared as a job killer for the Western Slope’s coal country.
Sign-waving coal miners stole the show from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission on Monday night as they rallied outside the old Mesa County Courthouse. They gathered before the commissions first hearing on Xcel Energys plan to close or retrofit some of its Front Range coal-fired plants. The changes are being made to comply with the Colorado Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act.
Of course, the Western Slope natural gas folks are excited about it.
Boulder City Council took the recommendations of its staff — and not those of David Eves. They won’t be putting renewal of the Xcel franchise agreement on the ballot in November — and they won’t be renewing it, either:
A 20-year agreement between Xcel Energy and the city of Boulder will be allowed to expire at the end of the year, the Boulder City Council decided late Tuesday night, leaving voters this fall to decide whether to impose a tax on the utility while the city studies other options for its energy future.
The decision to abandon pursuing the long-term agreement with the utility giant came in late-night 6-2 vote.
“The world has changed, the energy-supply world has changed dramatically,” said Councilman Matt Appelbaum. “I, honestly, can’t imagine signing a multi-decade agreement.”
So, what now? Read more
Today, the Camera ran a guest commentary in which Eaves asks Boulder City Council to allow citizens to vote on the question this November:
We urge the City Council to put this agreement on the ballot for voters to review and decide upon. For the past two years, Boulder staff and members of my staff have invested thousands of hours negotiating the details of the franchise, and also directly addressing the city`s stated priorities. The product of that work is a mutual agreement that benefit us all. Business and community leaders — and city staff too just a few weeks ago — have been in support of continuing our franchise because the agreement meets what we were told were the city’s primary priorities, mainly lowering the environmental impact of every Boulder resident.
Well, there’s not a much more boring phrase than “franchise agreement” out there, but now would be a good time to educate yourself on Boulder’s Xcel franchise agreement options (and those laid out by the City Council) and what’s going on, because a lot of energy and tax dollars are in the mix and that affects everyone — for the next 20 years. On Tuesday, City Council will decide whether or not to put the franchise agreement renewal on the ballot this year, but not before they hear a lot from the president of Xcel in Colorado: Read more
On the day of the late-April Valmont Coal Plant protest protest, the Camera talked to protester Tom Weis by cell phone – while he was standing on top of a pile of coal at Valmont. Weis and four others were arrested that day, but they’re not done talking (or collecting funds for legal defense, for that matter).
Elephant journal recently talked to four of the Valmont Coal Plant protesters, Weis included, who are in hot water after trespassing on Xcel’s property.
Boulder’s looking at upgrading its aging hydroelectric turbine in Boulder Canyon, but even with a federal discount, it would cost the city about $4 million. That debate breaks down into a pretty easy-to-understand $4-ish million now or probably $5.2-ish million later — and City Council will address that tomorrow (Tuesday) night at 6 p.m. Read more