With proposed increase: $63.35
With proposed increase: $689.59
Steamboat Springs City officials are eyeing a 2 percent gas bill increase that would provide the first dedicated funding source for sustainability projects in Steamboat Springs.
The proposal, which was passed at first reading by the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday, would raise the city's franchise fee with Atmos Energy from 3 percent to 5 percent. The last such increase was in 2002, when the franchise fee was increased from 1 percent to 3 percent.
"A franchise fee is a fee that utilities pay municipalities and counties for using public property for profit," Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said last week. "That's the only way they can do business is to use someone else's property."
Although the franchise fee is charged to Atmos Energy, officials with the city and the utility said it is passed on to Atmos customers.
"I can almost guarantee you they will pass it on to their customers," DuBord said.
If approved, Steamboat would become one of 13 Colorado communities that charge Atmos a 5 percent franchise fee. Twenty-six other communities charge 4 percent or less. While gas customers may oppose their bills going up 2 percent, Atmos officials are remaining neutral.
"We don't take a position either way," spokesman Kevin Kerrigan said Monday.
If approved after its second reading in two weeks, the franchise fee increase is expected to generate about $150,000 annually for the city's sustainability efforts. City planner Bob Keenan, who leads the city's "green team," said the money could be put to such uses as making city-owned buildings more energy efficient. Another possibility would be to purchase more hybrid vehicles, DuBord said.
"It's going to be a huge help," Keenan said last week. "It will certainly help us realize some of our larger sustainability ticket items. : I think that's a good use of that money because it's coming from energy use. I think it's a good fit."
Such efforts currently compete against other pressing needs for money from the city's general fund. Keenan said it is a challenge to compete against public infrastructure projects and other essential services.
"It's been real difficult," Keenan said. "There's other priorities."