We want your feedback on a new program for funding "enhanced" street lighting. A tiered "cost of service" rate structure that will be presented to the City Council later this spring. Comments received by March 30, 2016 will be considered in the rate consultant’s analysis.
THE CREATION OF SPECIAL ASSESSMENT AREAS
The City provides a basic safety level of street lighting, which includes standard light poles at the end of each block and in the middle of each block, and additional lighting often at critical areas such as schools, bus stops, bike lanes, and crosswalks. This basic level of service lighting is funded through a rate charged to property owners on the City utility bill. When neighborhoods desire more lighting than the standard provides, it is considered an “enhanced” level of service and is paid for by the property owners who benefit.
Dating back to the early 1900s, residents requested the installation of additional or decorative street lights in their neighborhoods (example of decorative lighting shown at right). Over the years, more neighborhoods petitioned the City for similar improvements and were willing to be assessed a fee for the additional costs of the lighting. For this reason, Special Assessment Areas (SAAs) were established to improve neighborhoods in a specific way, such as additional landscaping, sidewalks, lighting and other enhancements. For example, the Street Lighting SAAs are for neighborhoods where property owners requested enhanced street lighting.
UTILITY SURCHARGE TO REPLACE STREET LIGHTING SAAs
The current process of using SAAs to fund operation and maintenance expenses is not financially sustainable. It was found that several Street Lighting SAAs had substantial negative fund balances, because the amount paid by property owners over the years was not sufficient to cover the cost of operation and maintenance, particularly for areas with older infrastructure of lights that had been vandalized. After several meetings, the Salt Lake City Council voted to phase out the SAAs and move them into the Street Light Utility with more equitable and sustainable funding mechanism.
Managing enhanced lighting under a utility fund will provide a better opportunity for public input and will spread costs over a larger pool of people. This will provide funds for maintaining and upgrading aging infrastructure and to make energy efficiency improvements that will help keep costs down.
Under this new program, there will be no annual street lighting assessments for the current year. Instead, property owners within the Street Lighting SAAs will receive a monthly utility bill that will include a fee for street lighting, beginning July 1, 2016. The City has hired a utility rate consulting firm, to work with City staff and the public, to make recommendations on a proposed tiered rate structure for enhanced lighting.
HOW CAN THE PUBLIC PARTICIPATE IN THE PROCESS?
A rate consultant is currently analyzing costs to prepare a tiered “cost of service” rate structure that will be presented to the City Council later this spring. Your feedback is requested. Comments received by March 30, 2016 will be considered in the rate consultant’s analysis.
Please take a few moments to provide your feedback by following the link below.
Public workshop meetings are scheduled for 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm on March 10th to present ideas and get public input into proposed rate structures. Comments may also be left at Open City Hall, or you can also contact the Public Utilities Department at 801-483-6700 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.