July 21, 2020
Dear Boulder City Council,
I am reaching out to each of you prior to your discussion tonight regarding a potential franchise agreement or settlement with Xcel. I request that you delay this action and not put any settlement with Xcel on the ballot this fall.
I know you are receiving many emails from your constituents on this issue so I will try not to repeat much of what you may have already read and provide you a different perspective.
I was on city council when the country and the city went through a significant economic downturn in 2002-2003. City council, with our then-city manager, had to make severe adjustments to our budget. In July 2003, we reduced the budget by ~$15-16M (equivalent to ~$22M in 2020 dollars so we were in a somewhat similar situation as you find yourself today) and laid off around ~400+ FTE staff. Reductions in all departments occurred, every project, every line item was examined. Big budget items were reduced but the real focus was the little things and cumulatively, that added up to ~$16M/$22M in cuts.
During these economically difficult times, we also went forward with the risky endeavor of demolishing Crossroads (it was still producing tax revenue) and building 29th Street Mall. This turned out to be a very wise decision as the design, marketing, and construction of the new 29th Street facility created a myriad of good-paying jobs and generated a lot of sales and use tax. Building 29th Street helped save the city and its declining revenue. It was a wise investment!
Likewise, now in 2020, we face difficult financial times. And we have another wise investment that I urge you to keep: that investment is the municipalization of our electric utility. Since 2010, with voter approval multiple times, the city has invested ~$23M to date. Just for comparison, Xcel took ~$23M in profits just from Boulder back to Minneapolis in 2019. The city is close to receiving 2 very important decisions that will determine critical factors regarding the city moving forward with municipalization. I request we be able to get to those decision points. The muni is our future investment for the city. Final design and building the infrastructure will generate good-paying jobs and will generate substantial sales and use tax. And the city will be able to reinvest the ~$23M/year Xcel now takes home in profit into Boulder, our community.
Please stay focused. Please stay the course on the muni. Slow down or stop any discussions with Xcel on any settlements regarding our energy future. And please do not put anything related to a franchise with Xcel on this year’s ballot.
Thank you for your attention in these very challenging times.
Lisa Morzel (former Boulder City Council member 1995-2003, 2007-2019)