FCSG Statement on Interim Climate Budget Offers for 2024 (Part 1)

The Fort Collins Sustainability Group (FCSG) has reviewed City staff’s proposed appropriation of the 2024 sales tax, and has discussed the climate offers with the City’s Climate Team.  We do not believe that the interim climate budget offers are fully consistent with the ballot language approved by voters in 2023, which states that 25% of the new revenue shall be used “for programs and projects advancing greenhouse gas and air pollution reduction, the City’s goal of 100% renewable electricity, and the City’s 2050 goal of community-wide carbon neutrality.”

To begin with, the projected lifetime reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution of all the climate offers is just under 9,000 metric tons of equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2e).  That is equal to approximately 0.5% of community-wide climate pollution in 2022 – hardly a needle-mover toward the City’s goals of a 50% reduction by 2026 and an 80% reduction by 2030.

Staff does point out that some of the climate budget offers – those included in the “Needed next step” category – are “critical components” of strategies that will result in significant reductions of community GHG pollution.  Those four offers, which are listed on page 207 of 2010 of the work session meeting packet, total $925,000, or about 24% of the total climate package.

It is not clear why several of the remaining offers are listed in the climate category.  For example, while grants to offset utility fees for affordable housing development ($400,000) would indeed reduce the cost of affordable housing, it would do nothing to reduce GHG pollution.  And while funding to implement exterior lighting retrofits at City Recreation Centers ($500,000) would indeed reduce GHG pollution, it is not clear why this offer appears in the climate category and not in the parks and recreation category.  It would be helpful to know what the impact of that offer would be on climate-harming emissions – information that is not provided for any of the climate offers individually – and apportion the costs of that offer between the parks and recreation and climate programs accordingly.

The FCSG recommends that City Council take a careful look at the interim climate budget offers, ask that staff move some off the list or split the costs with other programs, and further ask staff to propose additional offers or expand existing ones to spend the total of $3.9 million available this year for climate initiatives.  We call on staff to propose offers for the 2025-26 biennial budget that will support the substantial reductions in GHG pollution that will be needed to meet the City’s 2026 climate goal.  Finally, we ask City Council to be prepared to approve those budget offers and other off-budget initiatives later this year to meet our community’s commitments to protect the climate and the health of well-being of Fort Collins residents.

 

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Author: Kevin Cross

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