Dear Councilmembers Francis, Pignataro, Peel, and Ohlson –
The Fort Collins Sustainability Group (FCSG) has reviewed the packet for the Council Finance Committee meeting this Thursday. We would like to ask you to ask staff to keep the large emitter tax as on the agenda for the Council work session later this month, so that the full council can consider bringing it to the voters this November.
We note that the Finance Department is proposing two scenarios to make up the for the anticipated shortfall in funding for parks and recreation, transit, housing, and climate action. The estimated shortfall in “climate umbrella” funding ranges from $22 Million to $33.7 Million, with a midpoint value of $27.8 Million. Scenario A would raise $19 Million for climate umbrella programs starting in 2024. Scenario B would raise $23 Million for climate umbrella programs starting in 2024 and achieving the full value in 2026. So both scenarios would fail to raise the amount needed for climate umbrella programs under all but the most favorable circumstance (Scenario B with the lowest estimated shortfall).
Given this gap, we find ourselves asking again whether the Finance Department is fully on board with the City’s 2019 Climate Emergency Resolution. Why plan to raise insufficient funds for climate programs if another viable funding option exists that could close the gap?
Another funding option does exist, of course, and that is the large emitter tax. That tax would raise $4.8 Million to fund climate programs in 2024, declining to $1.4 Million in by the end of the decade, assuming Broadcom and Anheuser-Busch live up to their promises. In this decade our community has two major climate goals: 50% GHG emissions reductions by 2026 and 80% GHG emissions reductions by 2030. Money raised by a large emitter tax would certainly be helpful over the remainder of the 2020s. And a large emitter tax would have the added benefit of making it financially beneficial to Broadcom and Anheuser-Busch to reduce their large GHG emissions even more quickly than they have said they will.
We note that both the additional natural gas franchise fee and the utility occupation tax would also decline as the City progresses toward its climate goals. Those sources of funding are not “sustainable” over the long term, either, but they each have an important role in both raising money for climate programs and encouraging residents and businesses to switch away from relatively carbon intensive natural gas and toward an increasingly renewable electricity supply to meet their heating needs.
We therefore urge you to tell Finance Department Staff to include the large emitter tax in its presentation for the Council work session on April 25th, so that it may have a fair hearing by your fellow councilmembers for inclusion on the November 2023 ballot.
Fort Collins Sustainability Group
Fort Collins, CO 80522
Ph. 970-484-3141 https://focosustainability.org