Mayor&Rsquo;S Office

Mayor's February Update: Permitting center, VT-Alert, e-buses, and new YMCA

This month, I’m thinking about a number of important initiatives that officially launched in January, and four in particular: the opening of the City’s new one-stop permitting center, the City’s expanded use of the VT-Alert rapid notification system to send alerts about urgent local issues, the arrival of the first two electric transit buses in Burlington, and the opening of the new YMCA in the heart of our city.

One-Stop Permitting Center

Residents come to the City’s permitting offices to pursue their dreams and needs for their homes and businesses. In the past, though, it’s often been too hard to achieve those dreams as a result of a system spread across multiple locations and lacking clear accountability. For years, the public has asked the City to make the permitting system simpler, more accountable, and more user-friendly.

In January, we took a major step toward doing just that, and opened the City’s one-stop shop for permitting and home of the new Permitting & Inspections Department. With it, we’re celebrating the completion of three major reforms, including taking functions that were previously spread across multiple locations and departments and combining them into one customer service center and under one department head. While there is still more work to do, together, these reforms constitute the biggest reorganization of City government in decades.

Importantly, the City employees who do this work were closely involved in the discussion about how to best make these changes, and their job descriptions have remained similar. Now, though, they are working within a more functional system. Along with better service, these changes also create new efficiencies that will result in ongoing savings for taxpayers estimated at more than $100,000 annually. I am excited to be beginning a new era of improved service, accountability, and coordination in our permitting system.

Sign up to receive City alerts through VT-Alert

One of the wonders of the modern world is our capacity for immediate communications. Until now, though, the City lacked the ability to urgently and reliably contact all of our residents. We’re changing that by broadening our use of the VT-Alert rapid notification system. This is a powerful tool – but in order for it to work, we need Burlingtonians to sign up! Learn more, and sign up today, on the City website:

We’re broadening our use of this tool in response to a situation we faced last summer, where we had to issue a precautionary boil water advisory in parts of the South End and realized that we needed a better system to rapidly communicate directly with Burlingtonians when urgent issues arise. We have learned from that incident, and we’re glad to be expanding our use of this alert system for needs in the future.

Users who are signing up for VT-Alert will be guided through a process to create an account, input your contact information in order of preference, and identify categories of interest. If you input a Burlington address you’ll automatically be signed up for the most critical level of notifications, like boil water advisories and major storm preparations, and you can also opt-in to other categories, like beach closures and snow bans. If you don’t have a Burlington address but still want to receive city notifications, you can check the box for “City of Burlington alerts.” The entire process takes less than five minutes, and you can unsubscribe at any time. Sign up today:

Electric buses come to Burlington

At the end of January, I was excited to welcome the first two electric transit buses to Burlington. In March, these buses will go into service with an initial route on Green Mountain Transit’s Red Line, the busiest route in the GMT system. This means they will run along Williston Road and North Avenue, and provide Burlington High School students with the opportunity to ride an e-bus to school.

Why are e-buses so exciting? They will improve air quality and bring greater quiet to our streets. But most importantly, of course, instead of running on fossil fuels, they will be powered with the Burlington Electric Department’s 100 percent renewable energy. These buses also represent the shift that our society needs to make in order to meaningfully respond to the climate crisis. That shift means investing in energy efficiency, choosing modes of transportation like walking and riding public transit, and then electrifying everything and powering it with renewable energy – from our heating systems, to our cars, to yes, our buses. Learn more about how the City is working to make these shifts easy and affordable at: I look forward to seeing many more e-buses and other electric vehicles in Burlington in the coming years.

Celebrating the new YMCA

The YMCA has always been a hub of Burlington, supporting our health, providing much-needed childcare, serving as a crossroads for all parts of our community, and much more. Now, as of January 1, the Y finally has a building that better reflects all of those critical roles. This building is for the community, and it is also by the community – it took many, many hands to make it happen, and the fact that it did is a testament to Burlington’s strong civic culture and desire to keep our downtown vibrant. I look forward to continuing to see many of you there! 

As always, I encourage you to join me at the Bagel Café on North Avenue on Wednesday mornings from 8:00-9:00 am to share your thoughts and questions about these or any other topics that are on your mind. I hope to see you soon.