My Authors
Read all threads
New topic: Transportation mobility fee. Chris Hagelin, Interim GO Boulder Manager and Senior Transportation Planner, leading.
Reminder of transportation funding needs:

$23 million in annual unmet needs
$21 million in one-time capital needs
$110m investment for Renewed Vision for Transit
"We're facing a number of issues" when it comes to funding, Hagelin says. Sales tax is slowing; we're fighting with more ppl for fewer dollars at the state and regional level; RTD is sucking wind.

(Sucking wind was my paraphrase)
Here's a closer look at some of those annual unmet needs:
Most of the capital needs are electrifying transit and redoing stoplights, etc. Hagelin says.
You may remember we talked about possible transportation funding mechanisms on June 18. (Or you may not. But now you know.)
"There's a limited number of funding mechanisms out there," Hagelin says. But a working group came up with six.

"There is no one silver bullet" to solve all our transportation needs, Hagelin says.
One of the six options that a working group came up with: Transportation Utility/Maintenance Fee. Usually levied on commercial and residential properties, appearing on utility bills.
It can be based on how many VMT various land uses produce. Or based it on lot frontage to public right-of-way, as Loveland does.
Transportation maintenance/utility fees are common throughout the U.S. Hagelin says.
The county is also considering a transportation tax for the November ballot.
That would be separate from the *local* fee, Hagelin is careful to point out. Unlike a tax, council can do a fee without voter OK (though they can seek it).

BUT the fee has to be tied directly to impacts.
Phrased another way: The fee has to solve the problem it's being implemented for. You can't, for instance, charge people a fee on driving and then use the money to buy open space or pay for flood mitigation. There has to be a link between cause and effect.
The county tax would be regional and dedicated to improving 5 major corridors and bus rapid transit.

Weaver giving an update now. "It's a pretty big increase in sales tax" that's being considered.
The county tax may be tied to affordable housing as well. Polling is happening now-ish.
There's also a statewide transportation funding measure being floated.

2020 is gonna be a huge local election. Can't wait; will still be here for all your voting needs!
The county is looking at 0.62 and 1 cent sales tax, which are big, big increases. Boulder during my time hasn't done anything bigger than 0.15, that I can recall. Definitely not more than .33.
Young asks why the county would do a tax we've already been paying RTD for; we're supposed to be getting improvements on Highway 119. "That was supposed to come out of FasTracks," she says.
Yes, staff says.
Yes, Brockett says. We're not getting the train anytime soon, so this plan developed from RTD. They've agreed to put in $30M on 119, but that's all they're promising anybody at this point.
"We keep lobbying for it," but we're short for the funding we need, Brockett says. "This would be a choice (for voters): Do we just not get it done or do we tax ourselves to get it done?"
Weaver breaks in with more county info: The discussion was for 2/3 of the tax to go toward transportation and 1/3 for affordable housing. "The idea is if you put them together, they're more likely to pass."
OK, we're returning for the mobility fee.
A Nexus study for the fee would cost $60-$75K; already in budget for 2020. Council just needs to give a green light.
Wallach: Are you at all concerned that having two transportation funding measures at once might harm the success of both?
Nexus study, with an RFP process, will take 4 months or so, Hagelin says. "That may be the tightest we can do; more realistic" is 5 months. "Certainly there are concerns about timing."
"The county tax is not going to solve our local issues."
Wallach referencing how little revenue the fee is anticipated to raise: $5 million a year.

Subject to change, but estimates:
$80/yr for detached residential unit
$53/yr for multi-family unit
$0.20 sq ft/ for commercial/retail
$0.10 for office
$0.02 for warehouse/light industrial
"Is it a bit like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic?" Wallach asks.

Yes, but it's a start, Hagelin says. "It is going to be an issue of prioritizing those unmet needs."
Yates: Do we want to wait a month or two on the study to see what the county is doing? I know we're doing different things, but I can see them impacting one another.
Also, let's not forget that the library district might get the voter OK and then free up ~$6-7M a year in our budget. Is that a fair assumption, Yates asks?
Brautigam: There would be funds available. They'd go to the general fund and council would have the decision on how to spend them.
BUT... when we have one group in front of us with very huge needs, we also think oh we could spend the money on that.

"There are many needs and $6.5M or so gets spent very quickly."
Yates: Are you going to study everything? Or do you need a priority list from us on what the fee will go to, bc they have to be directly linked?
Hagelin: I think it would be beneficial to have input from council as to what your priorities would be.
Yates: Do you need that tonight?
Hagelin: No, that could be a subsequent discussion.
Brockett asked a q about impact and benefit, but I didn't quite understand it.
Hagelin: There's many Dif ways this fee could be assessed. Loveland uses length of public right-of-way. Others use trip-generation rates: How many trips do offices generate? Retail? Residences? That's used as a proxy for their impact on the system.
Brockett: So that would be impact, then?
Carr: It can be either benefit or impact.

I think we're talking the legal relationship that has to be established as the basis for a fee...
Brockett: What would we be allowed to fund? If we're thinking about direct impacts, could we only fund projects that have direct impacts?
Carr: No.
Precedent gives broad scope to what you can do. Uses bag fee as an example.

"I think we have more ability," Carr says. "You've got some scope."
Young: What kind of a shelf life does the nexus study have?
Carr: We don't like to let them sit too long. I don't think there's a case where someone's been challenged for a stale study; as long as the logic is sound. We have used them for a few years.
Carlos Hernandez, transportation director: Costs are going up rapidly every year. At my previous job, a 2-year-old study was out of date bc of the costs.
Suggests that council ask the consultants who do the study, bc "I don't think we're going to get them right tonight."
"Given all the tea leaves that are emerging," do you want us to start the study, or do you want us to hold? Hernandez asks.
Young: That's why I was asking about the shelf life. If we say go ahead tonight, it may dovetail nicely into the ballot time, and we'll have more information.

"I'm of the mind to let's just go ahead and get the study going."
Friend: "I have a philosophical question."
This would be on our utility bills... transportation seems "untethered" to utilities. "I'm a little worried about opening the flood gates" to putting things on that bill.
"I want to make sure that philosophically it makes sense to fund transportation in that way."
Hagelin: "I think looking at the transportation system as a utility system is where a lot of these ideas first formed. It's also an established collection mechanism. ... We already have a utility billing system."
Carr: That's a policy q for council.
Yates: I'm glad you've talked about incorporating equity into this.

"Is there room in that discussion for another type of equity between residents and commuters? A lot of our impacts are caused by ppl who don't live in Boulder."
References a head tax, something former councilwoman Cindy Carlisle brought up last year and previous councils have seriously looked at. "Could that be in the scope of the study we're looking at?"
Head tax = tax on employees. Jointly paid by co. and worker
Hagelin: The working group looked at that, but they didn't reach consensus on it, which is why we didn't present it.

But we could try and fit it into the Nexus study.
"The understanding of the mobility fee is that it would be collected on commercial and residential properties," so that businesses would be contributing.
Yates: Isn't there a secondary objective to revenue collecting to shift behavior? How does collecting this get ppl out of their cars?
Hagelin: The things that shift behavior are things like user fees. A head tax could be considered that, but nothing like direct costs to users.

"Those are still mechanisms we want to look at."
Working group looked at impacts of Boulder going it alone vs. what can be done regionally, Hagelin says.
Brockett: This maintenance fee would be tied to in-commuters. It probably won't serve as a disincentive, but maybe.

Wants to move forward with the study. "I think this is a promising mechanism."
"We keep not getting the statewide help we'd like to get," Brockett says. "We continue to need additional help" given all our unfunded needs in transportation.
But I want to "be sensitive to potential interaction with other taxes."

I'd hate to impose a fee in October and then have a county transportation tax on the ballot the next month. "We'd want to be really careful about the timing of it."
Maybe county transportation tax, if it passes, would reduce the need for this, he says.
Swetlik: "I'm always up for a head tax."
"Let me take my B- in economics and talk about this for a second."

What could we do to have a bigger impact more quickly? Parking fees, congestion pricing. To me, "it feels a bit half measure-y."
Hagelin: "I certainly see congestion pricing and user fees being the future."

We'd still keep working on those; they're not "being back-burnered" in any way. But the mobility fee is "more ready to go."
Parking pricing is a different option that could have a more significant impact, if council wants to go that direction, he says.
Joseph: "We have to be sure we tax the right people. Who are the people who are coming into Boulder for work? Yes, it's good for the environment. But we don't want to hurt ppl who are driving in only bc they can't live here in Boulder."
Young: That's the appealing thing about the fee; it can be done on a sliding scale and you can take equity into consideration more than you can with a tax.
Young to Swetlik: Parking pricing is a lot more nuanced than meets the eye. For example, my favorite program: Boulder's new $3 from 3-3 parking fee downtown.…
It's generating more revenue, Young says. So a lower parking fee is generating more $$.
"Let's go for the nexus study," Young says.
Brockett: When we discussed last year, one of the attractive qualities was the ability to do rebates. You worked on this five years ago...?
Hagelin: Yes. We were at this point 5 yrs ago.

Much laughter.
Young: Rebates sound great, but it's hard to get ppl to engage.
Brockett: Rebates aren't necessarily the way to do it. Just focus on equity.
Hagelin: Maybe exemptions. Rebates are a little more complicated.
Swetlik: I also love the $3 for 3, but my concern is peak congestion in the morning. I don't think we've been aggressive enough with our parking. "The ppl who are coming in the early mornings tend to be at the higher levels of income."
Friend: I support moving forward but I have concerns on why transportation goes on utility bills. "I hope that when it comes back, we have a robust discussion about that decision and the precedent it sets."
Wallach concurs. "I think there's a larger issue here."

But he also supports moving forward with the study.
Weaver does, too. "I think that has to get done one way or another. What fee mechanism we choose will be up to us to discuss."
Putting it on the utility bill is a convenient thing, but we can't talk about if that's right or not, Weaver says.

Later, though: Staff is going to go ahead with a competitive bidding process, pick a consultant and then come back to council to refine priorities before a study.
Hernandez: Would May be too soon for that?
No, council says.
That's all for this. @threadreaderapp please unroll.
Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh.

Enjoying this thread?

Keep Current with Shay Castle

Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!