Mayor&Rsquo;S Office

Mayor's Update - May 2018

Last month I had the honor of delivering my seventh State of the City address to City Council and members of the public. For those who were unable to join us for this wonderful annual tradition, I would like to briefly summarize my remarks below. You can read the complete remarks here:


In 2018, the State of the City of Burlington is very strong. And it will grow even stronger in the year ahead as we work to ensure that all of our residents benefit from our recent progress and have a voice in our future direction. Though we have much to be proud of as a community, we still have much work to do to become the welcoming, equitable, and sustainable City we aspire to be.


Over the next year, our work will include progress and new efforts in five areas:

  • Collecting and analyzing data on City equity initiatives;
  • Working to turn the tide of the opioid crisis;
  • Continuing to build our Early Learning Initiative;
  • Taking our next steps towards becoming a net zero energy city; and
  • Strengthening our public engagement efforts. 


Nowhere is our work more urgent and nowhere is there more at stake than in our efforts to turn the tide of the opioid crisis. It has been four years since Governor Peter Shumlin focused the nation on this epidemic, and yet, in 2017 again the death count attributable to accidental opioid overdoses continued to rise nationally and in Vermont. More Americans now die every year as a result of accidental drug overdoses than were killed in the entirety of the Vietnam War.


Too many of those deaths continue to happen right here in Chittenden County. Since last August, we have lost 13 of our neighbors to this terrible scourge. Vermont prisons have been among the leaders in the country in addressing the crisis by creating opportunities for opioid treatment. Yet we still have work to do. In the year ahead, we must dramatically expand access to medications that could help save lives. Burlington is proposing that we move towards having a system where a health professional prescribes methadone or buprenorphine to opioid addicted patients at the time patients are ready to accept treatment – increasing their chances of freeing themselves from the grip of this terrible addiction.


In 2018 we will bring our focus on innovation and results to grow the new Burlington Early Learning Initiative. While we had conducted extensive research when City Council approved the first allocation of City funds for this effort last July, with that commitment the City stepped into a new area where we had little precedent locally or nationally to look to. What we did have is clarity that hundreds of our youngest Burlington toddlers and infants were not getting the high-quality child care they deserved and a shared intent to take action to address this challenge. Infant and toddler child care is a major equity issue. When kids do not access high-quality care during this critical time, they start pre-K and Kindergarten already behind, and too many of these kids then struggle to ever catch up. In the weeks and months ahead, I look forward to working with the Council and the new Community Development and Neighborhood Revitalization Committee to finalize our next round of grant requests, shape the new program’s strategy for its second year, and set a path for securing new partners and funding that will expand the impact of this initiative throughout the City.


These and other initiatives will do much to make our community more equitable, sustainable, and welcoming.  They will ultimately only succeed, however, if we get the fundamentals right and fully fix our downtown housing and land use policies.  At front doors and coffee tables around the City this winter, the cost of housing continued to be the most urgent problem on the minds of our voters. We have more to do to work our way out of the affordable housing crisis.


In the year ahead we must bring new resources to our local Housing Trust Fund, and get our parking, affordable housing, student housing, and other local land use policies right. This work is difficult and will continue to require focus and commitment. When we get it done, however, we will ensure that Burlington will remain in the decades ahead what it has been throughout its 150-year history: Vermont’s city of opportunity, where all are welcome to start a career or a business, where people of all backgrounds can buy a home and start a family, and where Burlingtonians of all ages thrive.


I am excited to take on the challenges of the next year together. 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 can also visit my Facebook page at, or follow me on Twitter at @BTVMayor for information on the work of the Mayor’s Office and our City Departments. I look forward to seeing you soon.