City of Burlington, Vermont City of Burlington, Vermont

Miro Weinberger, Mayor
Room 34, City Hall / Burlington, VT 05401 Phone: 802-865-7272 mayor@burlingtonvt.gov

 

Mayor's Office

Mayor Miro WeinbergerNovember 2017
 

We have been relishing the first cold and snowy days in Burlington, and looking forward to time spent with family and friends this holiday season. We hope you will have the opportunity to enjoy all that Burlington has to offer at this time of year. Over the past month we have made important progress on a number of fronts:

 

City Council approves Burlington Telecom sale finalist

While I was as surprised as anyone by the outcome of the November 27 City Council meeting, I was also relieved that after weeks of uncertainty, the City Council selected one of the two proposals that I encouraged them to consider as finalists in early October, and that does not breach prior Council-approved Burlington Telecom (BT) agreements that would have exposed the City and taxpayers to another round of lawsuits.  With Council’s vote, we are now in a position to close the book on Burlington Telecom’s decade of financial challenges and achieve long-term benefits for BT customers, taxpayers and the City. These benefits include a stable, strong future for BT – something that was very much in doubt just three years ago – and the return of millions of taxpayer dollars lost early in BT’s history.

 

Details of the proposal include: a purchase price of $30.8 million; granting the City of Burlington the right to roll over cash proceeds from the sale into a minority ownership interest in the new BT; commitment to the full, rapid build-out of Burlington and neighboring communities; $300,000/year of annual contributions to growing the local tech economy and digital divide issues; agreement not to increase prices on broadband for 60 months; agreement to an anti-monopoly future sales restriction; and a commitment to net neutrality and a maintaining BT’s historic privacy policy.

  

In the coming weeks, I will be working hard on behalf of Burlingtonians and BT employees to ensure that the final Schurz agreement includes these and other items that reflect our community’s priorities and values. Sale documents must be completed for submission to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) by January 2, 2018, and the potential PUC approval timeframe is between May and October of 2018. The BT transaction with Shurz is expected to close within approximately 60 days following regulatory approval. I look forward to finishing this important job for the people of Burlington in the months ahead.

 

Moody’s upgrades City’s credit rating for the third time in three years

Prior to City Council’s vote on the Burlington Telecom sale on November 27, Moody’s Investors Service announced that it had upgraded the City’s credit rating from A3 to A2. In its Credit Report, Moody’s stated “The management team, in place since 2012, remains committed to improving the city's financial position.”

 

Our upgrade from A3 to A2 is great news, and another sign of the City’s growing financial and economic strength. Like the two upgrades since 2014, this year’s rating upgrade will keep millions of dollars in Burlington instead of sending it to Wall Street bond investors - and help the City and Burlington School District expand their capacity to make long-term investments in the community.

 

The City Council’s vote to move forward with the Schurz offer for BT now puts the City on a clear path towards resolving further credit challenges, and may well lead to further, tax-saving ratings upgrades.

 

I am grateful for the partnership of the City Council in this progress, and for the work of the entire City team, including our Department Heads, who have continued to improve our public services while controlling expenses, and our Clerk-Treasurer’s staff for all they have done to turn around the City’s finances.

 

Burlington Early Learning Initiative grant application process opens

As Burlington takes steps to strengthen its finances, we are also working to support our youngest Burlingtonians. On November 16, I announced that the City had concluded the Request for Proposal process for a group to help manage the Early Learning Initiative grant process, and that Vermont Birth to Five (VB5) will now manage the grant-making program in collaboration with the City’s Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO).

 

The Early Learning Initiative will enable Burlington-based child care providers to compete for $500,000 in capacity-building grants for Burlington early care and learning programs that provide high-quality care to low income children and commit to increasing the number of slots available for children birth to three. We are now one step closer to achieving our goal of becoming a city in which every child has an opportunity to succeed, regardless of the means of their parents. By investing in our youngest children today, we will reap a better educated, healthier, and more just tomorrow.

 

VB5 published the details of the application process here: http://vermontbirthtofive.org/burlington-early-learning-initiative/. Information sessions for grant seekers were held in November, and Letters of Intent were due December 1. Full grant applications are due January 12, 2018.

 

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 about these and other important developments in our city. You can also visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MiroBTV/, or follow me on Twitter at @BTVMayor for up-to-date information on the work of the Mayor’s Office and our City Departments. I look forward to seeing you soon.