Tag Archives: Chico Utility Users Tax

Utility User Tax Rebate time – a good opportunity to let the city know you’re tired of subsidizing bad decisions

10 May

I notice people are reading the old posts I made about Measure J – the cell phone tax attempted by the city of Chico back in 2012. That reminded me of the city’s annual “Utility Users Tax Refund Program”, available starting May 1. Here’s a link to print a copy of this year’s form. due anytime between now and June 30.


What catches me by the short hairs right away is the title – see that? The city, which has absolutely nothing to do with providing our water, power, or landline, taxes us for using utilities! What a shakedown!

Okay, that outburst aside – they don’t just hand you back the money. There are income qualifications, and you have to have paper copies of all your utility bills attached to your application. No, they won’t allow electronic transfer, even though the utility companies have been encouraging customers to “go paperless” for the last 15 or 20 years. You can either take time from your work day to deliver them at the Finance window at City Hall, or you can pay the postage to mail a year’s worth of utility bills. What, you think they’re going to make it easy for you? As I explain below, it’s one of the city’s top revenue sources.

Okay, another outburst – you realize, they also add “Franchise Fees” to our PG&E and landline bills, right? As well as your Comcast bill, if you get cable tv. Those are not refundable.

I don’t know if people really look at their bills – the franchise fees are not listed. The Utility Tax is listed under “Local Taxes” on Cal Water and PG&E bills. It’s not penny-anny – 5 percent of the total bill.

In the 2021-22 fiscal year, City of Chico added $8,119,022 in UUT to our utility bills. That was over half million more than their projection of $7,485,219. Of course it goes up with utility rate increases and development, neither of which the city of Chico has ever protested. The UUT falls behind only Property Tax and Sales Tax as the city’s third largest source of revenue.

Right now, the tax rate is at 5%, which is the highest allowed by city charter. Back in the 90’s it was 3%, but council, always desperate for more revenues, voted unanimously to raise it to the full 5. I think they could be persuaded to cut the tax, but it might take a legal petition.

In the meantime, why not get your rebate? If you’re a young single person or the average working head of household, you probably qualify. Especially single parents. At least look over your bills and add up your total UUT – I would guess you’ll get a good trip to the grocery store out of it at the very least.

And there’s another thing – I’m a landlady, I save napkins with figures on them, I save every bill, every scrappy receipt, so of course I have my utility bills. Apparently not everybody does that, so here’s the thing – get ready for next year, start saving your PG&E, Cal Water, and landline bills right now.

The constitution guarantees us the right to redress our grievances to our government, but first you have to get their attention. Sometimes it takes a while, a slow build-up, with no retreat. I remember asking Mark Orme years ago for the total rebate figure, and I think it was just about $111. So I looked at the most current city budget and I see the city refunded $2499. That’s $101 more than the previous year’s figure of $2398. Given my family of three’s average annual rebate of $90, that’s at least one more household added to the dogpile.

So make your voice be heard – attach a note to Council detailing your concerns – and take back some of your hard-earned dough at the same time.