City of Boulder Ballot Question No. 310
City debt limitations
Xcel was polling Boulder residents about the language of Question 310 even as the company was denying that it had anything to do with getting the question on the ballot. And then, Xcel threw $300,000 behind the question in its effort to get it passed.
Why such interest?
Because Xcel wants to keep its profitable Boulder customers and it understands what some in Boulder still don’t, namely, that Question 310 has been designed as a Trojan horse capable of destroying any chance for the city of Boulder to create its own electric utility dedicated to sourcing its power in the most environmentally sustainable way possible.
That’s why Xcel is trying to buy the passage of 310, which has been disguised as a ballot measure to enhance democratic participation and strengthen taxpayer control over local government expenditures.
Question 310 may look good on the outside, but open the trap door and gander within and you’ll see a time bomb waiting to destroy all the hard work that’s gone into the municipalization process thus far.
It’s all in the timing of future events created by the wording.
First of all, as for the passage of 310 giving the 7,000 county residents — those who live outside Boulder’s city limits but who would likely be getting their electricity from the new city-owned utility — a vote on municipalization, it can’t. State law would have to be changed in order for the City of Boulder or Xcel to conduct such a vote. Nice idea. BW also wishes they had had a chance to vote from the beginning, but 310 will do nothing to solve this loophole in the democratic process.
As for voter approval when debt needs to be issued, no other utility in the state, municipal or otherwise, has to go through the time- and resource- consuming process of getting voter approval every time it needs to use debt to properly function as an ongoing business. It is an impractical burden that would make it impossible for the city to operate a utility.
Citizens already voted to approve the municipalization of their electric utility as long as it wouldn’t cost them more for electricity and it could be just as reliable as the current monopoly system controlled by Xcel. The city has gone through a painstaking process to determine the feasibility of creating such a city-owned system and has concluded that it can be done under the requirements of equal cost and reliability as long as certain parameters are met. And to make sure voters are comfortable with those parameters, Boulder City Council has gone so far as to put Question 2E on the ballot to guarantee a maximum spending limit on the acquisition of Xcel’s assets and stranded costs. In other words, voting yes on 2E effectively eliminates any need, pretend or otherwise, for the passage of 310.
Question 2E safeguards taxpayers from any possibility that the city will overspend, without adding the extra time bomb of having to get voter approval for debt before the amount of the debt can even be accurately determined.
To put it bluntly, there is no viable plan B should Question 310 pass. If it passes, municipalization is dead and all the time, energy and money invested to date will have been a total waste. The only option in the future would be to return to square one someday with a new ballot measure and repeat the exact same process that has just been done, no doubt arriving at the same conclusions.
And to what purpose? Such a do-over someday would simply be met once again by a similar disinformation campaign designed to scare people into maintaining the status quo no matter how detrimental to the planet’s environment.
We, as in we as human beings, are running out of time. We must confront global warming now by getting off of coal and yes, even methane-leaking natural gas as sources for generating our electricity as quickly as possible. Not next decade or even next year.
Every day we spend talking about the changes we must make instead of acting to make those changes is another day closer to too late, too late for our planet, too late for our children.
Don’t let a giant corporation driven only by its fiduciary duty to create and maintain maximum profit for its shareholders dupe you into voting for Question 310.
If you mark only one box on your ballot this year, make it a no vote on Question 310.
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