Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ritter: No Performance Pay for State Employees

Gov. Bill Ritter had bad news for state employees today.

The state's chief executive announced today that he will recommend to the General Assembly's Joint Budget Committee in November that state employees not receive performance-pay salary increases in FY 2009.

The move would save taxpayers $36 million and affect more than 26,000 state employees.

“By withholding performance-pay increases, tens of thousands of state employees are being asked to help serve as responsible stewards of taxpayer funds," Ritter said. "This is a pro-active and precautionary step that will give us even greater flexibility should we need to take additional budget-saving measures down the road.”

Performance-pay increases, first initiated in FY 2002, are based on employees’ on-the-job achievements. They supplement more standard salary increases that are based on market surveys.

Prior to FY 2002 state employees received annual pay increases based on the market surveys plus an automatic five percent increase after five years of service and another five percent increase after 10 years of service.

Since their inception performance pay increases have not been granted for budgetary reasons in fiscal years 2003, 2005 and 2006. In the years that performance-based pay increases were granted, they have ranged from one-half of one percent to five percent. Salary-survey-based pay increases have ranged from 2-3.8 percent during the past few years.

Ritter’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting estimates a general fund savings of $21 million, plus another $15 million from outside the general fund, by forgoing performance-based pay increases in FY 2009, which starts July 1, 2009.

The governor's proposed FY 2009 budget proposal is scheduled to be submitted to the Joint Budget Committee on Nov. 1.

Ritter Says Colorado Capitol Building is LEED-Certified

Gov. Bill Ritter put a feather in his renewable energy cap today, announcing that the Colorado capitol building has become the first such building in the United States to obtain certification for "leadership in energy and environmental design for existing buildings" which is awarded for energy efficiency upgrades made over the past four years.

The capitol, which was constructed in 1895, also has become the first building in the country to receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s new LEED operations and maintenance certification for existing buildings.

“Even with historic structures as old as our Capitol, we have become a leader in energy reduction and energy efficiency," Ritter said. "Not only does this benefit the environment, but we will save taxpayers $1 million a year on reduced and avoided energy costs.”

The LEED certification system provides an outline for buildings to use less energy, water and natural resources, and improve the indoor environment.

“This recognition couldn’t come at a better time for Colorado. It allows us to showcase the efforts of a state that is committed to the future of a sustainable built environment,” U.S. Green Building Council president and chief executive officer Rick Fedrizzi said.

The LEED-EB certification is awarded to those who can certify an existing building has been retrofitted in a manner that demonstrates certain efficiency standards for its ongoing operations and maintenance.

In addition to the Capitol, three other state buildings in the Capitol Complex previously received "LEED for Existing Buildings" certifications: the State Services Building at 1525 Sherman St., the state Judicial/Heritage Center at 14th and Broadway, and the State Human Services Building at 1575 Sherman St.

The Governor’s Residence and the Colorado Division of Labor and Employment building at 251 E. 12th Ave. are also under review for LEED certification.

Building specific improvements that have been made to the Capitol in order to obtain LEED-EB certification include water conservation efforts such as low flow toilets, use of low energy light bulbs and T-8 light fixtures, improved energy controls, use of green cleaning products, initiation and maintenance of a recycling program, purchase of "Energy Star®" electronics and equipment, and use of environmentally friendly landscaping products and plans.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ritter Announces Energy Grants

Gov. Bill Ritter today announced the first recipients of the “New Energy Communities Initiative,” deciding to fund 14 projects around the state that his administration thinks will "stimulate economic growth, create new jobs, enhance sustainability and lead to more livable communities all across Colorado."

“The New Energy Communities Initiative will be a valuable resource for communities that are working together to build Colorado’s New Energy Economy,” Ritter said during a keynote address at the second annual New Energy Economy Conference at the Colorado Convention Center. “These 14 projects will enhance livability, strengthen the economy and reward regional collaboration throughout Colorado.”

The 14 grant recipients, representing regional and collaborative efforts, were selected from 32 applications. About 1.8 million people live in the areas that will benefit from these projects. The projects are:

1. Avon Heat Recovery Facility: $1.5 million

2. Boulder County Biomass Heating Initiative: $500,000

3. Cortez Micro-Hydroelectric Plant: $500,000

4. Fort Collins Regional New Energy Communities Initiative: $778,000

5. Garfield County New Energy Communities Initiative: $1.6 million

6. Grand Junction New Energy Communities Initiative: $1 million

7. Greeley Intergovernmental New Energy Communities Initiative: $700,000

8. La Plata County Regional New Energy Communities Initiative: $1.2 million

9. Longmont New Energy Communities Initiative: $500,000

10. Loveland Multi-Agency New Energy Communities Initiative: $39,250

11. Pikes Peak Region New Energy Communities Initiative: $200,000

12. Pueblo Sustainable New Energy Communities Initiative: $1 million

13. Routt County New Energy Communities Initiative: $87,000

14. Yuma County New Energy Communities Initiative: $400,000

"The New Energy Communities Initiative provides an energy and economic stimulus that rewards communities throughout Colorado for innovative ideas that will save energy, save money and create jobs,” Governor's Energy Office director Tom Plant said.

Gov. Ritter announced the establishment of the New Energy Communities Initiative at the Colorado Municipal League’s annual conference in Steamboat Springs in June. The initiative is a joint effort of Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Governor's Energy Office. It is designed to maximize energy efficiency and conservation, enhance community livability, promote economic development, and address climate change by reducing carbon emissions.

The program directs $10 million in Energy Impact Assistance Funds to regional efforts, with a maximum of $2 million per region.

“These grants will help local communities upgrade, retrofit or develop energy efficient public facilities, enhance street-scape improvements and downtown revitalization, and assist local governments’ efforts to educate homeowners on energy efficient upgrades and retrofits to meet higher energy efficiency standards,” Susan Kirkpatrick, executive director of the Department of Local Affairs, said.

The Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance program assists communities in offsetting the direct impacts of energy and mineral development and in meeting other needs indirectly related to such development. The funds are administered by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and come from the state severance tax on oil, gas, carbon dioxide, coal and metals and from the state's share of royalties paid to the federal government for the extraction of minerals and mineral fuels on federally owned land.