The Fort Collins City Budget and the Climate Action Plan
Last year, the City of Fort Collins re-affirmed a climate goal it originally established in 2008, and established a new climate goal that is one of the most ambitious in the world. Those two goals are to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020 and 80% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.
Lat fall, City Council set the City’s budget for the next two years. This process began with various City departments making “budget offers” last spring, which the City Manager then evaluated and used to develop his “recommended budget”, which was released in early September. Since then, City Council has been taking input from residents. Council finalized the budget on November 15th.
In 2015, community-wide GHG emissions were 9% lower than they were in 2005. According to City staff analysis, if all of the offers included in the City Manager’s recommended budget were funded in both the current budget cycle and the 2019-20 budget cycle, community-wide emissions would be about 12.9% lower by 2020 than they were in 2005. Clearly, considerably more work must be done in the next four years to achieve the 2020 goal.
The Fort Collins Sustainability Group (FCSG) has identified three additional offers made by City staff that are NOT currently included in the City Manager’s recommended budget and that would help close the gap between projected GHG emissions and our 2020 goal. Those offers are 3.17: Trip Reduction and Efficiency Programs, 67.11: Sunday Transfort Service, and 94.1: Wind and Solar Energy for Municipal Operations. Together, these three offers would help get the community-wide GHG emissions down 14.2% by 2020 if fully funded over the next four years.
Offer 3.17 would pay for a study by a consulting firm that would result in incentive programs to reduce motor vehicle use and thereby reduce GHG emissions from the transit sector. Some of these incentive programs would be “no-cost,” and could be implemented immediately. Other incentive programs emerging from the study could be funded in the next biennial budget.
Offer 67.11 would provide funds to operate MAX, key bus routes, and complementary paratransit service on Sundays. While this offer is projected to result in relatively low GHG emissions reductions in comparison to the other two unfunded offers, it would significantly increase the usefulness of the public transit system for Fort Collins residents.
Finally, Offer 94.1 would dedicate City funds to purchasing renewable energy from the Platte River Power Authority (PRPA) to meet all of the electricity needs of all City departments. This offer needs to be improved by requiring that the renewable energy used in municipal operations come from new instead of existing sources. If this were done, Offer 94.1 would enable our community to make significant progress toward the 2020 goal.
The FCSG urges readers of this newsletter to let City Council members know that the three offers described above are critical to meeting our 2020 climate goal. Write to council members at CityCouncil@fcgov.com. For more information on these offers, click here.
Kevin Cross is a member of the Fort Collins Sustainability Group Steering Committee.