Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Passes the City Council Unanimously, Restoring City Services and Launching New Initiatives

Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Passes the City Council Unanimously, Restoring City Services and Launching New Initiatives  

Amidst a Citywide Reappraisal and Economic Recovery, the FY22 Budget Significantly Limits Tax Increases While Making Bold Investments  

Burlington, VT - At its meeting tonight, the City Council approved the Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget unanimously by an 11-0 vote, continuing the Administration’s track record of responsibly stewarding the City’s finances while making new investments in equity, climate, and the economy.  

“Last year we faced a dramatic reduction in revenues that forced us to eliminate virtually all discretionary spending. This year, the infusion of $27M in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) revenues created a complex and exciting challenge,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “The budget my administration put forward and the City Council approved restores full city operations and makes structural progress on strategic priorities, all while carefully limiting the impact of lost revenues due to Covid on hard hit taxpayers. This budget is foundational to our City’s recovery.” 

Faced with unique challenges in the FY22 budget, Weinberger led a collaborative budget process that sought input from the community and the City Council.  

In May, Weinberger announced a set of guiding principles which included minimizing tax increases. Of the itemized rates that make up the municipal tax rate, Weinberger exercised discretion where possible to minimize impacts on taxpayers. The Mayor’s budget keeps tax rates $.0233 lower than authorized by voters, thereby avoiding a nearly 3.5% tax increase in the municipal rate during this early stage of the economic recovery by dropping itemized rates for Parks, Highway, Library, the Housing Trust Fund, and Open Space Land Conservation. The FY22 Budget does see increases; in the Public Safety Tax, as approved by voters in 2020, and in the City’s retirement service. 

FY22 Budget Principles 

The Administration began the FY 22 budgeting process by laying out principles that would guide our work to develop the budget. Those principles were:  

  • All City services will be restored to pre-pandemic levels. 

  • Investment in critical infrastructure should continue at pre-pandemic, enhanced levels to address aging assets and advance Net Zero Energy City goals.  

  • Emergency reserves should be restored to address FY23 economic uncertainty. 

  • Tax increases should be minimized as much as possible. 

  • City will make overdue investments in racial equity and justice, language access, and livable wages. 

  • Municipal City enterprise funds severely impacted by the pandemic require support. 

  • The use of significant ARPA funds will be necessary to make good on other budget principles. 

New Investments in the FY22 Budget 

The FY22 budget makes significant investments in our efforts to become a more racially just community, including: 

  • Increasing the REIB Department staff will from three to eight employees, adding a Racial Equity Data Analyst, Equal Opportunity Specialist, Anti-Racism Curriculum Manager, and moving two Public Health Manager positions from the Innovation and Technology Department to the REIB Department.  

  • Support for a citywide Juneteenth event in 2022. 

  • $165,000 for a public art sculpture about inclusion and belonging. 

  • Funding for all City employees to be paid a livable wage, regardless of whether they are eligible per the City ordinance.  

  • Funding within the Human Resources budget to expand diverse and recruiting initiatives for all Departments.  

  • $150,000 of funding so that all Burlington board members and commissioners can be compensated for their service on a per meeting basis. 

  • Resources to implement the City’s newly adopted Language Access Plan. 

  • Support for the Trusted Community Voices.  

The FY22 budget makes substantial investments towards the climate emergency and Net Zero Energy City goal, including:  

  • $2 million in energy efficiency funds and over $675,000 in Tier 3 electrification funds to support customer incentives and continue the Green Stimulus incentive programs within the Burlington Electric Department budget, including rebates for heat pumps, electric vehicles, and more. 

  • More than $700,000 (funded in significant part by a $560,000 State grant) to  purchase  a new electric bucket truck, and new charging stations for electric vehicles in Burlington, including a potential DC fast charger.  

  • Multiple environmental analyses will be underway in the coming year, including a $250,000 study by the Burlington International Airport to develop a Net Zero roadmap for airport operations, and a division-wide assessment of Water Services, through the Department of Energy, to evaluate energy efficiency opportunities across all plants and associated infrastructure. 

  • Upgrading HVAC systems in City facilities and evaluating energy efficiency of City buildings. 

  • The City’s newly established $1 million Green Revolving Loan Fund to make investments in City buildings that will result in energy savings was fully expended in FY 21 on the City Hall attic insulation and mechanical upgrade effort. In the coming months the City will receive a rebate from VGS and the Burlington Electric Department for the City Hall for this renovation and will use those rebates to partially refill the fund to pursue further projects in FY22. Additionally, the Burlington Electric Department budget assumes that the department will soon  seek voter approval for a revenue bond that would help fund key Net Zero initiatives and support associated grid and technology upgrades. This proposal would better align some of BED’s programs with revenue return from electrification, and mitigate future upward rate pressure. 

The FY22 budget makes significant investments in infrastructure to make walking and biking safter throughout the City will encourage active transportation and reduce vehicle miles traveled, including: 

  • $1.5 million of bike and pedestrian improvements, including protected bike lanes on North Champlain Street, bike and pedestrian improvements on Manhattan Drive, constructing the modern, one-lane Shelburne Street Roundabout, upgrading University Place to add bike lanes and improved crosswalks, intersection safety improvements on at the Colchester Avenue/Pearl Street/North Prospect intersection, and constructing a shared use path on Mansfield Avenue.  

  • $2.2 million to rebuild three miles of sidewalks  

  • Resources to complete a citywide sidewalk condition assessment to prioritize our work.  

  • Approximately $450,000 for funding for traffic calming projects (that also improve active transportation safety) in the Birchcliff, East Avenue, and Mansfield Avenue neighborhoods, as well as $300,000 to expand traffic calming in other parts of the City added to the budget following Council input in recent weeks. 

  • $1.5 million to complete the multi-year, 8-mile long Bike Path rehabilitation with both the construction of a new alignment through Oakledge Park and relocating the path to the west side of the rail tracks in the central waterfront. 

  • One of the most significant local rail investments in recent decades with $300K being dedicated to contribute to the larger State and Vermont Rail System effort to upgrade infrastructure improvements to bring daily Amtrak service from New York City to Burlington.  These funds will pay for soil management, upgraded power to reduce train idling, and realignment of Lavalley Lane to accommodate the new Amtrak railyard siding.   

The FY22 Budget advances our Net Zero Goals through the electrification of the City’s fleet and reducing vehicle miles traveled, including:  

  • $75,000 for the Planning Department to complete a Transportation Demand Management study intended to result in recommendations for creating a community-wide TDM system. 

  • Dedicating $500,000 to purchasing nine electric vehicles (EVs) for the City’s fleet, including an electric Zamboni, which will equate to 38% of the 24 vehicles planned for replacement in FY22. Additionally the City will purchase five hybrid vehicles, so EVs and hybrid vehicles will represent 59% of our vehicle purchases in FY 22. This is a positive trend, as the City began purchasing EVs in FY 20 and 6% of vehicles purchased in that year were electric, and 21% of vehicles purchased were EVs in FY 21. 

  • As part of the City’s commitment to electrifying its vehicle fleet, the Administration is focused on significantly increasing the “fast charge” stations available to City employees in FY22. 

Information about the Citywide Reappraisal Impact on the FY22 Tax Rate  

The .6700 tax rate for FY22 (down from .9002 in FY21) was also driven by the required revenue neutral citywide reappraisal. 

  • The City will soon conclude the citywide reappraisal project that has been underway since 2018. The last citywide reappraisal was conducted in 2005. Since then, the market values of properties have increasingly diverged from their 2005 assessed values in ways that are not even across Burlington. This has resulted in property valuations no longer being fair and equitably distributed across properties, neighborhoods, and property types. 

  • By Vermont Tax Department standards, the City is required to undertake this citywide reappraisal. The City’s Charter mandates that this reappraisal will be revenue neutral for City government.  

  • There are approximately 1,900 outstanding appeals of assessed property values. The Board of Assessors decision letter will be mailed at the end of June, and owners will have 14 days from the mailing date to appeal their property value to the Board of Tax Appeal. 

### 

Press Release Date: 
06/28/2021
City Department: 
Mayor's Office