On June 14, 2o16, the Council voted in support of establishing a new rate structure for enhanced lighting areas in the City. Property owners that are part of an enhanced lighting area will no longer be annually assessed for operation and maintenance for additional lights, but rather they will be charged a monthly public utility enhanced lighting fee, effective July 11, 2016.
The changes ensure that the decorative lights are properly and regularly maintained, and that they are upgraded for energy efficiency, and to make sure that costs are paid for by the property owners in those areas.
The City Council made two motions that adopted:
- A resolution changing the funding source for the City’s enhanced street lighting from special assessment areas (annual fee) to a monthly utility fee.
- An ordinance to amend the consolidated fee schedule related to enhanced street lighting, which will set the rate for property owners in enhanced lighting areas. In addition, the Council’s motion reflected its understanding that the rate will continue to be evaluated and set in order to generate enough revenue to cover the full cost of enhanced lighting in those areas of the City so that no other Utility Funds nor the General Fund will be required to financially contribute to cover enhanced lighting expenses.
If you would like to stayed informed on this issue once an evaluation of the fee structure takes place, please sign up here.
Past Meeting Updates:
- Tuesday, May 31 – Council discussion about proposed rate structure and utility fee and public Q & A with City representatives
During the Council briefing on May 31st, the City’s consultant, Raftelis, presented their study findings and proposal to switch enhanced lighting from a special assessment to a monthly fee on utility bills. The proposal includes a three-rate structure and a bond to expedite capital improvements.
- Tuesday, June 7 – City Council public hearing
At the June 7th Public Hearing, a few residents spoke. A question was raised about the level of outreach that has been done for this topic. Following is a list of staff efforts made to notify and engage affected property owners:
- Attended several Community Council meetings,
- Contacted each Community Council chair for areas that include enhanced lighting,
- Contacted and attended Downtown Alliance and Sugar House Merchants Association meetings,
- Held three open houses,
- Posted an Open City Hall article and updated it along the way,
- Set up City web-pages to provide information and regular updates,
- Sent two mailings to each property owner in an existing special assessment area. (Emails were also sent several times to property owners who provided their email addresses.)
In November 2015, the City Council received a briefing on options to transition Lighting Districts L01, L02 and L03 from a Special Assessment Area (SAA) to a lighting surcharge in the City’s Lighting Utility Fund. Based upon options from the Administration and recommendations from consultant Linda Hamilton, the Council took several straw polls. You can read details of each straw poll here.
The changes have come after months of work and sorting through options to identify a more sustainable program for these neighborhoods with enhanced lighting.
Note: each 42 extensions (neighborhoods) must be brought to a zero balance in order to dissolve the SAA before transitioning to a public utility surcharge.
The City Council also expressed its intent to:
- Have a formal legislative document (i.e. resolution/ordinance) prepared for the Council’s consideration that will provide transparency for the public record regarding the Council’s decision to transition from a traditional SAA to a public utility surcharge fee.
- As part of the next phase, the Council wishes to discuss a process for how a neighborhood would apply to participate in enhanced lighting or private lighting.
- Ensure property owners involved in the 42 extensions (neighborhoods) receive notification as the transition develops from an SAA to a public utility surcharge.