At 10:50 pm last night, as the very last item before summer break, with only minutes to spare before the meeting ended, the Berkeley City Council agreed to put the Climate Equity Action Fund on the November 3 ballot.
If approved by voters, the measure would:
• Raise the gas/electric utility user tax (UUT) from 7.5% to 10%, while exempting low-income customers (CARE/FERA) entirely. This would raise about $2.4m a year.
• CARE/FERA customers currently pay the tax; this would end that, saving ~5000 low-income households $50-90 per year each.
• It would give the Council authority to raise the gas UUT an additional 2.5% once we figure out how PG&E can split the tax rates without charging the City $800,000 in fees.
• It would designate the Energy Commission to advise the Council on how to spend the money to promote local climate action, with an emphasis on equity and environmental justice.
It’s our local Green New Deal.
The measure was endorsed by the local Sierra Club, 350 East Bay, and the Citizen’s Climate Lobby, which gave the Council a lot of comfort.
• The ballot language and support argument needs to be submitted by August 14.
• Groups and individuals who want to work for passage should convene to start making plans. To join an email list about the Fund, click here.