Boulder, CO

Survey about proposed Boulder climate tax increase closes today

Matt Whittaker

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Lightning over Boulder, Colo.Bo Insogna, www.MrBo.com / Flickr

By Matt Whittaker / NewsBreak Denver

(Boulder, Colo.) Today is the last day Boulder residents have to complete a survey about a climate tax initiative that may appear on the city’s November ballot.

The outreach is about a new climate tax the city wants to be collected on Xcel Energy bills to increase the amount taxpayers contribute to climate and sustainability programs. 

“By creating a new tax, the city can simplify climate investments, tackle high-impact projects, better align with the scale of investment necessary and address inequities created by the current tax,” a city newsletter said. 

Currently, the city’s taxpayers contribute around $4 million each year via climate-related taxes. But some of that will expire in 2023 if nothing is done. 

So Boulder wants to replace the existing taxes with a new tax that would bring in at least $1.1 million more in annual revenue and allow the city to borrow money against future climate tax revenue.

The proposed tax would charge businesses more and residents less. The current $42.95 residential rate would drop to $38.20. Commercial customers would see an increase from $241.29 to $374.90, and industrial customers’ tax would jump from $704.83 to $1,389.89.

As is, the city's commercial and industrial sectors account for about three-fourths of the city's energy-related emissions. Still, they pay less than 37 percent of a climate tax approved by 60% of voters in 2006, paving the way for Boulder to become the first municipal government in the nation to impose an energy tax to combat climate change directly.

Climate science has changed since then. City staff said raising the climate tax would enable more significant greenhouse gas emission reductions and an expanded emphasis on making the community more resilient and adaptable in the face of climate-related shocks like last year's poor air quality because of California wildfires and the Marshall Fire, which destroyed more than a thousand homes and businesses in Boulder County. 

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Matt Whittaker writes about natural resources industries, including oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, agriculture and cannabis. He's been based in the Denver metro area since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter @mattswhittaker.

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