Photo by John F. Russell
City Council President Loui Antonucci and County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush discuss an issue during Monday's joint meeting between the Steamboat Springs City Council and the Routt County Board of Commissioners. Among the issues discussed at the meeting was the city's proposed 2 percent increase to its franchise fee with Atmos Energy.
With proposed increase: $63.35
With proposed increase: $689.59
Source: Atmos Energy
Potential annual gas bill increases for Routt County facilities in Steamboat Springs with a proposed 2 percent increase to the city's franchise fee with Atmos Energy:
- Courthouse $419.25
- Jail $394.94
- Environmental Health $27.94
- Probation $49.86
- Justice Center $501.16
Source: Routt County
Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs officials will take a harder look at a proposed 2 percent increase to their franchise fee with Atmos Energy.
An ordinance that would approve the increase is scheduled for a second reading before the Steamboat Springs City Council tonight. At a joint meeting Monday of the City Council and the Routt County Board of Commissioners, county officials expressed concern about how the increase in the cost of running county facilities in city limits and also the additional burden on elderly and low-income residents the increase could cause.
The proposal 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 governments charge utilities to operate on public property. The fee is passed directly through to customers and would result in a 2 percent increase in residential and commercial gas bills.
The city had planned to put the additional revenue, estimated at $150,000, toward sustainability projects in Steamboat Springs such as making city-owned buildings more energy efficient.
"In my mind, the whole issue is where we put the money to work," City Council President Loui Antonucci said. "The thinking was if as a community we thought (the sustainability program) was worth it, we would go forward. : If we're going to fund new programs, we need a new funding source."
Antonucci said he is personally against the increase, which is possible because of a clause in the city's agreement with Atmos that allows the city to raise its fee as high as the amount charged in other communities. Twelve communities collect a 5 percent franchise fee from Atmos Energy.
"I don't believe it's government's job to pass a tax just because it can," Antonucci said.
Councilman Jon Quinn said he would be open to an exemption program for elderly and low-income households, but not the county. Councilman Steve Ivancie said the City Council should take a harder look at the ordinance before second reading.
"When it comes to fixed-income or low-income folks, we need to consider an exemption," Ivancie said. "It bears us re-looking at this."
Also Monday, city and county officials prioritized joint efforts laid out in the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan. Providing adequate dedicated funding for transit and developing a water conservation and management plan were two initiatives that officials agreed to give the highest priority.