Reasoning and Resources

Issues:

City of Boulder Certified Ballot Language

2011 Boulder Chamber Ballot Items 2A, B&C Endorsements

Boulder Chamber Supports Bright Colorado Initiative 25 (Prop 103): press release


2A – YES on Capital Improvement Program Bonding:
A debt increase of up to $49 million for the City of Boulder, with a repayment cost of up to $82 million. Does not require a tax increase. Funds will be spent on capital improvements, including transportation infrastructure, facilities and structures repair and maintenance, police and fire safety facilities and equipment modernization, and other items identified by staff and reviewed by a City convened citizens group. This item will utilize existing tax revenue to enable the important infrastructureinvestments needed to support Boulder’s economic vitality. The City implemented an inclusive process to narrow the scope of investments and ensure a responsibly vetted list of projects.


2B&2C -NO on Increasing/Extending the Utility Occupation Tax & Light and
Power Utility (Municipalization)
2B is an increase of up to $1.9 million in the current Utility Occupation Tax. The current tax is scheduled to expire at the end of 2015. If approved, the tax would be increased, and extended to the end of 2017. The increase would fund further exploration and planning for the creation of a Municipal Electric Utility and acquisition of the existing electric distribution system. There is a provision for the tax increase to expire earlier should the City decide not to pursue a Municipal Electric Utility, or at the time it begins delivering Electric Utility Services. 2C is authority for the City of Boulder to establish, acquire, erect, maintain and operate a Municipal Light and Power Utility, if the City Council determines it can do so with rates at or below Xcel's at the time of acquisition, and with comparable reliability and a plan for reduced emissions and increased renewable energy. Includes a charter amendment to provide service standards, and create an electric utilities department and an electric utilities advisory board. Service standards include consideration, but no guarantee, of rate parity. The City Manager will hire and oversee the department head, and the City Council will have final ratesetting authority and appoint the members of the advisory board. Also includes authority to issue enterprise bonds to be paid through utility revenues.

The Chamber supports the City of Boulder’s goal to reduce carbon emissions and works closely with the city and local businesses to protect our environment, enhance clean energy businesses, and grow solar, wind and other alternative energy jobs in the Boulder area. We believe that energy sustainability is crucial to ensure a resilient, thriving economy well into the future, and we support choosing sources with the lowest environmental impact and the highest potential to support local jobs. But there are no explicit guarantees in the ballot language for reduced emissions, energy sustainability, competitive rates, or fair ratepayer  representation in governance. We believe ballot issues 2B and 2C pose high risks to the  City's future for an uncertain return. We urge voters to vote No on 2B&2C and instead request that more effective and immediate ways to reduce Boulder’s green house gas emissions be explored.


Points of Concern:
• Representation: The ballot language puts all future decision making, including rate setting authority, in the hands of Council members. Although businesses constitute over two-thirds of Boulder's energy users, there is no guaranteed representation for the business community in setting electric rates.
• Preliminary and Startup Costs: The ballot language would authorize the City to borrow an unlimited amount of money, as much as the market will bear, through issuing bonds.
• Rates: The ballot language requires rate parity with Xcel "at the time of acquisition," but does not guarantee competitive rates for even one or two years after the city takes over the electric utility. On-going rate parity is encouraged, but not required.
• Renewables: The ballot language also encourages, but does not require development and use of renewable energy resources at the time of acquisition or beyond. No funding provision is set aside for energy efficiency incentives, or rebates for renewable energy investments, such as solar panels. Funding levels for these and other green initiatives will only be known after the ultimate legal and acquisition costs are determined, which may take many years and millions of dollars.
• Opportunity Costs: Ballot Issues 2B and 2C focus exclusively on municipalizing electricity and thereby risk missing other faster and more cost-effective ways to advance our climate actions goals.

 

Proposition 103: YES on Education Funding
The Boulder Chamber supports this five year increase in funding for K-12 and Higher Education in Colorado. Education is essential to our state's economic vitality, and with the passage of Senate bill 191 last year, we are making progress in the area of reform. This stopgap measure will return sales and corporate taxes to 1999 levels for five years, allowing systemic education funding issues to be addressed. For more information see the YES on Proposition 103 website, and the Chamber's press release announcing support.




Boulder City Council Candidates:

City of Boulder Certified Candidates

Candidate Economic&Business Issues Survey Responses

3-Minute Candidate Statements on YouTube

Boulder Chamber Candidate Endorsements

The Boulder Chamber Board considered member survey input along with the Endorsement Subcommittee’s recommendation in their final decision, and has endorsed the following four candidates based on their knowledge of issues and relevant experience, the extent to which they showed alignment with the Chamber's mission in their interviews and questionnaire responses, and their ability to be effective policy makers and contribute successfully to the City's overall sustainability. 


• Ken Wilson- In his four years of service on Council, Ken has shown sensitivity
to economic sustainability issues, a practical, analytical approach, and the
courage to speak the facts on issues. We believe he will become even more
effective in the next four years as he builds on his experience.
• George Karakehian-With two years on Council behind him, George has
demonstrated the value of his down-to-earth perspective as a long-time Boulder
resident and business person. He consistently brings the concerns of small
business to the table while remaining sensitive to the particularities of the
Boulder community.
• Dan King-We were impressed with Dan's focus on the City's long-term budget
issues, and his proven record as an environmentally responsible business owner.
His strategic thinking abilities and experience will make him a tremendously
valuable addition to the Council.
• Fenno Hoffman-Fenno showed a strong understanding of issues, and the ability
to communicate his common sense values with exceptional clarity and
intelligence. We appreciated his focus on key elements of the built environment
and their importance to the longterm viability and livability of our community.

 

These endorsements are intended to inform our membership and the public about
candidates the Boulder Chamber recognizes as best suited to advance its mission of
supporting an economically vibrant and sustainable community. No money will be spent
campaigning on any candidate’s behalf.


The Convention and Visitors Bureau, Small Business Development Center, and Boulder
Economic Council are Chamber affiliates, but are not involved in the Chamber's
endorsements.


City Drops Membership in Response to Endorsements

The Boulder City Council voted on Oct 4th to drop the city’s membership in the Boulder Chamber.  As reported in the Camera, the reason for dropping was the Chamber’s endorsement of city council candidates. Some Council Members raised the question as early as April 2010, when the Chamber Board of Directors first adopted the candidate endorsement protocol, but the Council did not decide to act until after the Boulder Chamber had named its endorsements.

 

In September, the Chamber provided the City of Boulder with a summary of the incredible value of their membership.  It is unfortunate that these benefits were not factored into the conversation. Given the discounted membership dues paid by the city and the value premium the city receives, it’s unfortunate that a majority of city council appears to have let political pressure outweigh the advantages of such a strategically important community partnership.

 

We are confident that our members, and prospective members, will see that it is more important than ever to have a strong and active business organization in the present political environment.


Boulder Facts: City Population: 102,800 | County Population: 298,685 | Founded: 1858 | Elevation: 5,430 ft.


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