Mayor&Rsquo;S Office

May 2019 Update from Mayor Weinberger: Fourth in Country for Solar, Doubling New Street and Park Trees, and City's Financial Health

Spring is here, and with it comes a churn of activity for the City, from planting trees to gearing up for road work season. This May, I’m thinking about our climate goals, our urban tree canopy, and our City’s financial health.

Burlington Fourth in Country for Solar per Capita

All Burlingtonians should be proud to see our City’s environmental leadership highlighted in a new report from Environment America, which finds that Burlington has more solar PV capacity installed per capita than any other city in the Northeastern United States. What’s more, the report also ranks Burlington fourth in the country for solar capacity per capita.

This ranking comes as we have pursued new solar opportunities in recent years: Today, Burlington has more than 16 times the amount of solar capacity as we did at the end of 2011. Over that same period of time, we also became the first city in America to source 100 percent of our electricity from renewable generation, we set and started working toward our goal to become a Net Zero Energy City by 2030, and – throughout this whole decade of progress – we held rates steady at the Burlington Electric Department.

We’re not stopping here. We’ve set some of the most ambitious climate goals of any city in the U.S., and we’re serious about meeting them. I believe that by taking action now, we’re not just doing the right thing. We’re also saving Burlingtonians money, giving our city a competitive advantage, and showing the world that it is possible to decarbonize our communities.

Planting 360 New Street and Park Trees

Our City’s trees give us so many benefits, from shade to clean air to, simply, joy. That’s why this year, the City is planting 360 new street and park trees, more than doubling the number planted in previous years. These plantings will include 100 trees along the northern section of the Burlington Bike Path; plantings in two neighborhoods with large populations of ash trees; and plantings in Wards 2, 3, and 8, which currently have the lowest percentage of canopy coverage in the City.

This increased planting is partly in order to proactively begin addressing the impact that emerald ash borer will have on the City’s ash trees, and also to meet our goal of continuing to expand the City’s urban tree canopy. We’ve been able to significantly expand our tree planting in part through creative solutions, including recruiting volunteers to help! To find more information about upcoming opportunities to get involved with tree plantings, see:

Milestone for City’s Financial Health

From my first days as mayor I have focused on restoring the City’s credit rating, and since 2012 the City has received four credit rating upgrades. These are more than just gold stars: They keep millions of dollars here in Burlington that would otherwise be sent to Wall Street, and a recent report from our Clerk/Treasurer’s Office estimates that since our upgrades began, they have locked in savings of more than $15 million for Burlingtonians.

Now, we are optimistic that another credit rating upgrade may be on the way. In April, Moody’s Investors Service published an article about the City’s recent closing on the sale of Burlington Telecom, and noted in the article, “The sale is credit positive for the city because it… removes liabilities related to a lawsuit by Citibank and partially reimburses the city for expenses connected to the enterprise.”

As a result of the closing, the City also earned back $7 million for our taxpayers that many thought was gone forever. I believe that it is time for taxpayers to benefit from these funds, and to that I end, the budget that I deliver this year will use a portion of the funds to do two things: 1) Eliminate the City property tax increase that was planned for next year, and 2) Replace our old and worn-out fleet of sidewalk plows.

As always, I encourage you to join me at the Bagel Café on North Avenue on Wednesday mornings from 8-9 am to share your thoughts and questions about these or any other topics that are on your mind. We are also now live-streaming these coffees just about every week so you can watch and weigh in from home. I look forward to seeing you soon.