The longest day of the year has come and gone, Independence Day is fast approaching, and I hope all of you are enjoying the sunshine and wonderful summer weather.
Mayor’s Book Group
If you haven’t already, you can still grab a free copy of Edward Glaeser’s Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier, and add it to your summer reading list. Free copies are available at the Fletcher Free Library thanks to the support of Book Group partner, the UVM Humanities Center. Triumph of the City looks at cities around the world; what makes them thrive and how their success improves quality of life and reduces carbon footprint. Don’t miss the Mayor’s Book Group panel discussion at ArtsRiot on Thursday, July 7 from 5-7pm.
On June 27, City Council will consider the City Budget for fiscal year 2017, which began on July 1. I would like to provide a condensed version of the detailed budget memo to share some of the good news about the upcoming year’s budget. For the full memo, please visit the press releases section of the Mayor’s Office web page.
The City of Burlington is a complex financial entity involving numerous enterprise funds, many revenue streams, and over $200 million (excluding the School District) in total expenditures.
FY17 budget represents progress on many fronts
The City’s FY17 Budget continues to strengthen the City’s fiscal position while also including critical new investments in public safety, infrastructure, City service quality, and opportunities for all Burlingtonians.
FY17 budget reduces municipal tax rate for second year in a row
For the second year in a row, the municipal tax rate will be slightly lower than the preceding year. The FY17 decrease will be a penny per hundred dollars of property value. The two years of modest tax rate decreases together represent progress restraining the property tax growth, a major constituent priority. The factors in the tax rate reduction are:
· The refinancing of the City’s General Fund debt, made possible by the restoration of the City’s “A” credit rating in March 2016 and resulting in a decrease in the portion of the municipal tax rate related to debt service.
· The progress the City has made – through a shared Administration, City Council, and public employee effort – controlling the costs of the City’s pension system. After more than a decade of steep increases, the City’s share of the FY17 pension costs will remain at the same level as the prior year for the second year in a row.
· The detailed and thorough budgeting work performed by the CAO’s office using our New World accounting system.
· The strong economy and a focus on creating new revenue (i.e., higher utilization of recreation programs), which has driven non-property tax growth.
· An agreement with the City Council to implement a one-time reduction of General City Tax so that property tax payers will enjoy a full penny tax cut on their FY17 taxes.
Budget again includes substantial new investment in public safety
With my support and direction, the Burlington Police Department has responded decisively to new enforcement and public health challenges, including a growing opiate challenge, with critical new 21st Century Policing initiatives in the last two years. These new efforts include:
· Becoming one of the first agencies in New England to deploy body cameras for all of our sworn officers.
· Increasing substantially the number of foot patrols and bike patrols in the City.
· Creating new community engagement and domestic violence officer positions.
· Organizing the new CommunityStat initiative to help coordinate the many agencies working on the opiate challenge.
In FY17, the BPD budget has been built on fully staffing 100 sworn officers throughout the year. The FY17 budget expands the availability of sworn officer by one through the hiring of a civilian trainer, and also includes a new deputy chief in the Fire Department and new investments in our young paramedicine program that is providing a higher level of care to Burlingtonians during emergencies.
The FY17 budget continues expanded infrastructure investment
Last year, the FY16 budget funded the first year of the 10-year Capital Plan using a number of secured and anticipated one-time sources to increase capital investment by $2.3 million. The FY17 Budget assumes that we will return to the Council in the coming months with a variety of strategies to fund the increased investment necessary in our streets, sidewalks, bike path, City Hall Park, vehicle fleet, IT, garages, facilities, and water infrastructure.
FY17 Budget expands opportunities for Burlingtonians
The FY17 budget includes important new or recent investments in expanded opportunity for Burlingtonians of all backgrounds, including:
· Continued funding of the Housing Trust Fund at historically high levels.
· Funding for a new community center in the Old North End.
· Continued investment in the expansion of Library Services youth services.
Conclusion: In summation, the FY17 budget coming before the City Council is very much in line with the significant progress we have made together over the last four years.
As always, I invite you to join me and share your ideas and concerns about the City at the Bagel Café on Wednesday mornings from 8:00-9:00 am or at numerous other community events each month. To stay informed about City progress and happenings, please visit www.facebook.com/MiroBTV. I hope to see you soon.