Last month our City’s Departments, especially Public Works, Police, Fire, Burlington Electric, Parks, and the Airport, were put to the test during the second largest winter storm in our recorded history. Our City staff performed admirably, quickly clearing the City’s streets, restoring power, and providing other valuable services to City residents.
The heavy snow and difficult conditions did not prevent the City from making a heroin-related arrest, responding to 74 separate police calls and 40 fire calls for emergency services without issue, and restoring power after an outage within 80 minutes to 62 residents and within 141 minutes to the remaining three. Streets were plowed with few exceptions by Wednesday afternoon shortly after the storm ended, and sidewalks over the next few days (it was slower than normal because the volume of snow required snowblowing, which takes much longer than plowing).
All in all it was a great effort and I am proud of the staff that worked around the clock to keep Burlington functioning during such a powerful winter storm. That said, we want to make sure that we learn everything we can from this big storm so that we are ready for the next one. We will be doing an “after action review” of the storm effort in the weeks ahead. If you have any input for that review, please email email@example.com or call 865-7272.
Opioid Town Hall meeting
Over 150 people attended the Opioid Town Hall meeting we convened in Contois Auditorium on Thursday, March 16. We discussed the many efforts currently underway to address the opioid crisis in the City and the region, and took input on the City’s 11 Opioid Principles, which are intended to guide our future work in what will be a sustained, difficult challenge.
I would like to thank the dozens of members of the public who asked questions and offered their perspectives and stories at Thursday’s event. We also discussed what individuals can do to help stop the opioid epidemic. It is critical that parents discuss the dangers of opioids with their children starting at a young age, and that patients are aware of the dangers of painkillers and work with their doctors to minimize unnecessary exposure to highly addictive opioids. Unused opioid prescriptions should be discarded to avoid abuse by children or visitors. In addition, engaged community members can make a difference in the debates happening in Montpelier and Washington about opioid policies.
If you were unable to attend the event, you can view the complete video here, thanks to Channel 17: https://www.cctv.org/watch-tv/programs/opioid-town-hall-meeting.
Moody’s confirms that Burlington’s municipal finances are continuing to improve
Our years of progress rebuilding the City’s finances continue.
On March 13, Moody’s Investors Service revised the City of Burlington’s outlook to positive and affirmed the City’s A3 credit rating. In its Credit Report, Moody’s stated that, “The city remains committed to improving its financial position and has generated four consecutive surpluses.” A few days later, on March 17, Moody’s revised the Burlington International Airport outlook to positive and affirmed the Airport’s Baa3 credit rating.
Moody’s improved outlook validates the City’s recent financial achievements, and is an indicator of likely future progress. The City’s credit rating is particularly important to taxpayers and ratepayers at this time as we are bonding to implement our major infrastructure plan (more on that below). Taxpayers and ratepayers will pay millions of dollars less over time as a result of the credit rating improvements we have secured over the last five years. The City will remain focused on and committed to responsible stewardship of the City’s finances.
Neighborly Securities offers opportunity to invest in Burlington
The City’s improved rating contributed to a successful sale of tax-exempt municipal bonds from March 27-29. During the bond sale, the City sold approximately $5.3 million in bonds to over 120 individual investors (many local). The proceeds of the bonds will be used to fund the City’s Sustainable Infrastructure Plan for the 21st Century, which voters approved unanimously in November 2016.
The City was able to offer this unique opportunity to Burlingtonians and Vermonters after winning the “Neighborly Bonds Challenge” in September of 2016, which provided the City a free opportunity to partner with Neighborly Securities to sell municipal bonds directly to the public through the firm’s innovative technology platform (saving the City more than $100,000 in transaction costs). By bringing the minimum denomination for municipal bonds down to $1,000 (such bonds are typically $5,000 or more), the Neighborly program makes the municipal bond market accessible to a wider range of investors.
I look forward to a continuing conversation about these and other important developments in our city. As always, I encourage you to join me at the Bagel Café on Wednesday mornings from 8-9am to share any thoughts or questions you may have. You are also invited to visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MiroBTV/, or follow me on Twitter at @MiroBTV for up-to-date information on the work of the Mayor’s Office and our City Departments. I look forward to seeing you soon.