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.

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.

Gas fee increase scrutinized

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Average bills

Residential

Now: $61.50

With proposed increase: $63.35

Commercial

Now: $669.51

With proposed increase: $689.59

Source: Atmos Energy

Proposed increases

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 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.

Comments

MtnWarlock 6 years, 1 month ago

Gee, Tax, Tax, Tax, Tax! The city collects tax fee's on gas, telephones, T.V. cable, services, Sales tax on food, water, liquor, etc.. Now, when we are facing economic hardship, they want to tax some more! The elderly and the low income, have a hard time sustaining as it is. I'm not in favor of taxing only those that can afford it! The middle income person always carries the heavier weight! I would like to know which 12 other communities we are talking about here! Those communities maybe have more population and density? If the city wants to make buildings energy efficient, they must first learn not to waste what we give them! Turn off lights, shut doors, use economical light bulbs, check weather striping, turn thermostats down, where heavier/lighter clothes, you get the picture. Why was this efficiency not done when new city facilities were made? Bad Planning? A lot of people are struggling with high gasoline prices. Now, the city would like to kick us when we're down with a new tax initiative! Unbelievable!

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jack legrice 6 years, 1 month ago

Stop trying to force those of us who by hard work can afford to live here , pay for those who can't. If you can't afford it here you live somewhere else.

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justathought 6 years, 1 month ago

"If we're going to fund new programs, we need a new funding source" MAYBE it's time to quit funding new programs. It would really be a shame if people were left on their own without government there to save them from themselves.

The city had planned to put the additional revenue toward sustainability projects in Steamboat Springs such as making city-owned buildings more energy efficient. WOW, work it into the revenues you already take in, it's not like you're the poorest city in the state, besides, all that money you'll save being energy efficient goes right back into the coffer. WHAT A CONCEPT, work within your already substantial budget and leave the citizens alone for awhile. ALL those in favor....

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bigdog 6 years, 1 month ago

Ever good socialist knows that the government knows how better to spend our money than ourselves. Why stop at 2%? Just think of all of the programs and people they could fund if they increased it to 10% or maybe 15%?

I know, I am a cold hearted libertarian who is only concerned with my family and myself......

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garyba 6 years ago

The proposed increase to the Gas Fee is NOT 2% but a 66% increase. A 2% increase would change the franchise fee from 3% to 3.06%, not 5%. Ask any 5th grader. On top of that the franchise fee is subject to sales tax thur increasing the cost to the customer over 66%

the change from 3% to 5% is a 2 percentage point increase not 2%

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