City of Burlington, Vermont City of Burlington, Vermont

Miro Weinberger, Mayor
Room 34, City Hall / Burlington, VT 05401
Phone: 802-865-7272

Mayor's Office

Mayor Miro WeinbergerMay 2017

The following is excerpted from the Mayor’s State of the City address.

At a time when the federal government is trying to close doors and turn its back on our most pressing challenges, we here in Burlington must continue to work harder than ever to keep our doors open. Our local policies and initiatives – not fleeting federal edicts – will ultimately have the greatest impact on whether or not we remain a City where people of all backgrounds – long-time Burlingtonians and newcomers – are able to start a career, raise a family, grow a business, and enjoy our arts, parks, and culture. 

When we resist growth and reject this historic role as a dynamic, evolving City, we force the middle class, the poor, and the young out of Burlington.  Locally, the numbers show that is exactly what has been happening in Burlington for many years. However, that trend has now begun to change. Together this Council, the people of Burlington, and this Administration are reclaiming the vision of Burlington as a vibrant, innovative, inclusive, affordable, sustainable, and growing City. 

After five years of work together, our municipal finances are better than they have been in many years and still improving; we are seeing major new investments in downtown homes and our innovative economy; we are moving rapidly to dramatically improve our public infrastructure and public spaces; we are showing the country and the world how small cities can be a major force for addressing climate change and reengineering American policing; and our commitment to protecting the most vulnerable is more robust than ever.  The State of the City is strong and advancing toward an even brighter, increasingly dynamic, and more just future.

This progress is only happening because a strong majority has voted again and again in recent years to advance toward this vision of Burlington’s future.  However, I know that some Burlingtonians also have questions about the changes we are pursuing, as well as the pace of change.  While change is inevitable no matter what we do, it is important that we listen carefully to these voices of concern, and manage the change in a manner that fulfills our long-held community ideals and values.  

In the year ahead, we will work to advance five major areas across the City: improving the character and quality of our public spaces; increasing investment in our roads and sidewalks; expanding alternative transportation options; reducing our environmental footprint; and making critical public safety enhancements.  

Over the next year, we must continue to make new investments in and update our public safety efforts, with a continued focus on work that addresses racial disparities and the opioid crisis.

For years we have asked our officers to do more and more as they have responded to the dual crises of an opioid epidemic and a failing mental health system. They have performed impressively, but it is time to get them the help they deserve. The Administration’s Fiscal year 2018 budget will add three new sworn officers in July – increasing the size of the department for the first time in 15 years – and we plan to later add two more, increasing the number of sworn officers five percent by FY19. 

In addition, the budget will include funding for new, specialized equipment and the professional education of a team of over a dozen officers. By September, for the first time, our police will be able to respond to complex and sometimes dangerous mental health calls and other critical incidents with all of the proper tools and training to successfully resolve these situations with a minimized use of force.

Also, I intend to bring to the Council later this month an initiative to immediately and permanently add three firefighters to the department – also the first increase in capacity in 15 years. More than two thirds of this new investment will be paid for by a reduction in the overtime costs the City has incurred for years as a result of our understaffing. 

I want to remind Burlingtonians that the total municipal tax rate has actually decreased for each of the last two years, and assure voters that again, for the fifth time in my six budget years, we will not be requesting a tax increase in FY18. 

We will continue to fight the battle against the opioid epidemic on a regional basis. Since November, when the Administration launched our CommunityStat program, we have been meeting monthly with dozens of non-profits, public health workers, police officers, prosecutors, and state officials to galvanize a robust, coordinated response to this terrible epidemic that has become, over the last decade, the leading cause of accidental death in America and in the State of Vermont.

After 18 months of focused work with our treatment providers, the waiting list and waiting times at our Chittenden County Treatment Hub have dropped substantially, and there is reason to hope that when the new St. Albans Treatment Hub opens later this year, we will finally have medically assisted treatment without delay.

Further, we need to remember that getting a person struggling with addiction into medically assisted treatment is only an early step in opioid recovery.  This means that thousands of people in and near Burlington will need help for years to come to recover from this terrible crisis.

As a City and State we have to come to terms with the fact that although we have been focused on this epidemic for more than three years, we still have a long way to go to truly free Chittenden County and Vermont from the grip of the opioid crisis.  Turning the tide of this crisis will require investment, leadership, institutional change, and far greater involvement from those who profited from the opioid trade. 

This is a daunting challenge, but I am confident we will succeed.  A defining characteristic about Burlingtonians is that we show up.  We do things together.  We are a strong community.  In the year ahead, the City will act by continuing to invest in our public spaces, our public safety, and expanded opportunity to ensure that this beautiful City continues to be a wonderful community for all.

Completing our ambitious agenda will be challenging, however, this is what we do in Burlington. We have a long history of municipal activism that has resulted in us punching far above the weight class of a small city of 42,000 people. And when we deliver on this agenda – which we will – Burlington will be a safer, more vibrant, more affordable, and more sustainable City for all who live, work, and visit this beautiful place.

- Departments of the City of Burlington -