City Streetlight Electricity Fee on June 16 Council Agenda
City council will consider adopting on first reading June 16 an ordinance to implement a new fee to cover costs for streetlights throughout the City of Salida. The background for this ordinance relates to the recent change in how sales tax revenue can be spent by the City.
On March 24, 2015 voters approved Ordinance 2014-28 in a special election. It applies greater restrictions on the use of the sales tax originally approved by voters and implemented as Ordinance No. 2008-34. This 1% sales tax is referred to as the “2A funds.” The additional amount of 2A revenue now restricted for capital spending reduces the amount previously available annually for the operation, maintenance and improvement of streets and other infrastructure, which included part of the funding to pay operating costs of streets and public infrastructure.
Since the total operating budget each year generally equals the amount of available revenue, the city council now must find additional operating revenue sources, implement operating budget cuts or spend unrestricted reserves.
The electricity bill for streetlights, traffic signals and lighting in parks and trails represents a significant portion of the City’s utilities costs annually. During a work session on May 29, 2015, five of the six elected officials in attendance supported the implementation of a fee to provide the service of street lighting.
Based upon legal research, the City Attorney has advised that, as a statutory city, the Salida City Council is empowered under Section 31-15-302(1) of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) to control the finances and property of the City and to appropriate money for municipal purposes, including to provide for the payment of debts and expenses of the City and can, furthermore, “provide for the lighting” of “streets, parks, and public grounds” pursuant to C.R.S. §31-15-702.
During the June 2, 2015 regular meeting, the city council approved a fee schedule and budget amendment incorporating a fee of $2.50 per property per month. The process for billing residents will be through the monthly water and sewer bills; however, the funds will be accounted for in a separate account and used solely for the payment of the electricity bills for street lights.
Based on the direction received, staff drafted an ordinance for the city council to adopt in order to amend Chapter 4 of the Salida Municipal Code and implement this fee. Ordinances require two readings, publications, and a public hearing. If approved, the new fee would go into effect on September 1st.