City of Burlington, Vermont

City of Burlington, Vermont

City Hall, 149 Church Street, Burlington, VT 05401
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 23, 2018
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

Vermont Mayors Respond to Governor Scott and Legislators’ Support of Commonsense Gun Reforms
Mayors Note Past and Current VMC Support for Universal Background Checks and Other Measures to Protect All Vermonters

 

Montpelier, VT – Today, Vermont Mayors issued statements welcoming Governor Scott and legislators’ support of commonsense gun reforms. Since 2013, the Vermont Mayors Coalition has supported a number of proposed commonsense gun reforms to ensure the safety of all Vermonters. These reforms have included:
 

  • Urging state lawmakers to require universal background checks for all gun sales.
  • Calling for notification of Vermont law enforcement agencies when a prohibited person attempts to purchase a firearm.
  • Supporting Burlington’s right to take the steps the City felt were necessary to protect public safety.
  • Enacting a State law prohibiting a felon from possessing a firearm so that such an offense may be prosecuted under State law in addition to federal law. 

The VMC urges Montpelier leaders to consider all of these anew as part of their new consideration of gun reforms.
 

The Mayors offered the following statements noting their appreciation for the Governor and legislators’ leadership on this issue:
 

Montpelier Mayor John Hollar: “We can’t continue to ignore the reality that the easy availability of firearms puts our children at risk. We are not meeting our obligations as adults and leaders to keep them safe. I applaud the Governor and legislative leaders for having the courage to consider sensible legislation to make our schools and communities safer.”

 

St. Albans Mayor Liz Gamache: “Our children are making it abundantly clear – our inability to move beyond the status quo is not acceptable. We must be open to moving beyond partisan positions and corporate interests to have the difficult conversations that will lead to effective policy changes that will keep our schools and communities safer.”
 

Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon: “As a long-time supporter of universal background checks, I am hopeful that we can pass commonsense legislation that respects law-abiding gun owners, but restricts access for those who should not own or possess a weapon due to a violent past or a mental health issue.”
 

Winooski Mayor Seth Leonard: “It is time to ignore the slippery slope argument on the most basic and sensible policies regarding background checks, shared information between agencies, and commonsense prohibition in clear-cut cases where the threat to public safety is evident. We need to take immediate action in Vermont to ensure our laws strike a better balance between protecting individual freedoms and supporting policies that address concerns in an extremely sensible way.”
 

Newport Mayor Paul Monette: “With yet another senseless school massacre in Parkland, Florida, we must enact commonsense gun laws which will keep firearms out of the hands of mentally ill people. We must enact universal background checks, improve reporting among states, and most importantly, improve school security. It is sad that it takes a tragedy to once again have discussions on this controversial topic, but maybe this time, with our youth speaking up, change will occur and we can all work together for a solution.”
 

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger: “Yesterday’s announcements represented a breakthrough after years of stalemate. This progress is a testament to the power of the many young Vermonters who made their voices heard loud and clear in recent days, and to the willingness of our State leaders to listen and to act. I welcome and appreciate the new support for commonsense gun reforms announced today by the Governor and Democratic leaders. I look forward to working with them to implement these and other measures to ensure the safety of our children, and all Vermonters.”

 

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Press Release Date: 
02/23/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 22, 2018
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

Mayor Weinberger Response to Today’s Announcements about Gun Reforms
 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Weinberger today released the following statement in response to Governor Scott and Democratic leaders’ announcements about gun reforms:

 

“Today’s announcements represent a breakthrough after years of stalemate. This progress is a testament to the power of the many young Vermonters who made their voices heard loud and clear in recent days, and to the willingness of our State leaders to listen and to act. I welcome and appreciate the new support for commonsense gun reforms announced today by the Governor and Democratic leaders. I look forward to working with them to implement these and other measures to ensure the safety of our children, and all Vermonters.”

 

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Press Release Date: 
02/22/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 20, 2018
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802-734-0617

 

Mayor Weinberger Remarks from Vermont Statehouse Rally Supporting Commonsense Gun Reforms

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today released the remarks he gave at the Vermont Statehouse rally organized by GunSense Vermont on Tuesday, February 20, 2018:

“Thank you GunSense Vermont for organizing today’s rally. It feels hopeful to be standing with so many of you this morning, and particularly to be standing with our kids and children, who have been so eloquent on this issue. That, I hope, is what will finally change this terrible dynamic and lead to action. I have been walking this sometimes lonely road toward commonsense gun reform since my first year as mayor, and I will tell you it feels much less lonely today.

“The shooting in Parkland, Florida last week was the eighteenth school shooting in the United States in 35 days. In the rest of the world, there have been 18 school shootings in last 20 years. We are failing at the most basic responsibility of protecting our children.* The rest of the world simply does not tolerate this kind of massacre of its children, and the United States of America and the State of Vermont should not either.

“These incredibly tragic events are avoidable, but they require action. It has been more than five years since 20 six- and seven-year-olds were murdered in Newtown, Connecticut, just a few hundred miles south of us. And yet, in the years since, virtually nothing has been done in D.C. or here in Vermont to protect our kids.

“We should now answer our children’s pleas for help. Today is a new day and we have another chance. It is time for Vermont to join dozens of other states and pass universal background checks.  If Montpelier can’t or won’t get the job done, at the very least this Statehouse should allow cities and towns that want to move forward on their own to protect our children, our domestic violence victims and our police officers. We should be allowed to take responsibility and do that as our own communities. It is way past time to take strong action to protect our children.”

This statistic came from TV journalist and author Jeff Greenfield. We became aware late this afternoon that this statistic is misleading. See the PolitiFact analysis here.

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Press Release Date: 
02/20/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 16, 2018
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802-734-0617

 

Mayor Weinberger Statement in Response to Parkland, Florida School Shooting
 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today offered his response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida:

 

“The school shooting in Parkland, Florida again demonstrates the deeply tragic and unacceptable inadequacy of the nation’s and Vermont’s gun laws. No other nation on earth tolerates these unbearable massacres and America should not, either. For over five years, since the slayings in Newtown, Connecticut, Vermont mayors have called on the legislature to pass universal background checks and prohibit military-style assault weapons like the one used to take 17 lives in Parkland. To date, virtually nothing has been done in Montpelier on the issue. Even modest steps towards common-sense gun safety at the local level, which had the support of a huge majority of Burlington voters, have been blocked. Vermonters have long been leaders on the moral questions of our times. We must lead on common-sense gun safety as well.”

 

 

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Press Release Date: 
02/16/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 9, 2018
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802-734-0617

 

Mayor Weinberger Offers Condolences to Family of Antonio “Tony” Pomerleau; Celebrates Tony Pomerleau’s Life and Contributions to Burlington

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today offered his condolences to the family of Antonio ”Tony” Pomerleau and celebrated Tony Pomerleau’s long, remarkable life and many contributions to Burlington:

 

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Tony Pomerleau. My heart and thoughts go out to his family. Tony lived a remarkable life, working his way up from a popcorn seller and potato packer during the Great Depression to become one of Vermont’s most successful business people and most generous philanthropists. Tony had an enormous impact on Burlington, both as a business person who pursued substantial ventures and made major investments here, and as a philanthropist whose remarkable generosity benefited our Burlington Police Department, as well as local organizations and institutions too numerous to name. I always admired Tony’s love of family, and enjoyed hearing about Rita and their children. And Tony created an even bigger family through pursuing one of his greatest passions – providing opportunities to Burlington’s children. Thanks to Tony, generations of Burlingtonians will grow up with greater access to after school and recreational activities. I am honored to have worked with Tony many times over the years as Mayor, and I will miss him very much.”

 

 

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Press Release Date: 
02/09/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 7, 2018
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

City of Burlington Reaches Agreement with University of Vermont, Champlain College for New Financial Contributions to City Infrastructure
Institutions Agree to Contribute Collectively $8.9 Million over 20 Years to Pay Cost of New Infrastructure Bond on March 2018 Ballot; Agreements Meet Goals of 2016 City Sustainable Infrastructure Plan

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today announced that the City of Burlington, University of Vermont, and Champlain College have now all approved new agreements that include payments by the institutions to support the City’s 10-Year Sustainable Infrastructure Plan. The payments are contingent upon voters approving ballot question number 3 on the March 2018 ballot to support a new infrastructure bond funded by the agreements. The bond would pay for new investments in Burlington’s streets, sidewalks, and other core infrastructure as detailed in the City’s 2016 Sustainable Infrastructure Plan. If voters approve the ballot question, UVM and Champlain would contribute collectively $8.9 million over 20 years to cover all debt service payments on the projected $6.1 million bond in 2018.

 

“These milestone agreements secure new revenues for the City from UVM and Champlain College to help cover the cost of our sidewalks, roads, and parks that would otherwise fall to taxpayers,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “The leaders and students of UVM and Champlain College understand that the future of their institutions are directly tied to the success of Burlington. I deeply appreciate their partnership in ensuring that Burlington’s core infrastructure is properly maintained and improved.”

 

“The University of Vermont and the City of Burlington have long enjoyed a mutually beneficial, interdependent relationship,” said Tom Gustafson, Vice President of University Relations and Administration at the University of Vermont. “The University benefits from a vibrant, safe, and well-maintained City that attracts students, faculty and staff; provides a valuable setting for volunteer activities and community-based research; and enhances the quality of life for the entire community.  Accordingly, the University will increase its long-standing financial commitment to the City, adding to the more than $1.3 million annual contribution for services provided by the City. In addition, as part of the agreement the University and City will improve the safety and environment of University Place, the street to the East of the University’s Historic Green. Improvements being considered include traffic calming measures, new sidewalks, safer crosswalks, repaving and greenbelt reconstruction that will result in a safer, improved streetscape.”

 

"Champlain has an ongoing commitment to partner with the City of Burlington to address shared goals, which is why we are increasing our existing financial contributions to the City to support the Ten-Year Capital Plan,” said Donald J. Laackman, President, Champlain College.  “We want to help ensure that Burlington thrives now and into the future as a place where people choose to earn a college degree, pursue careers and flourish as individuals and community members.  In supporting this plan, we are balancing our belief in the importance of joining other community partners in upgrading the infrastructure of the City, with our need for careful fiscal management to maximize affordability and access to education for Champlain College students.”

 

Details of the Agreements

UVM and Champlain College already make contributions to support the provision of City services in a variety of ways.  The new payments outlined in the deal provide revenue to support and properly steward City infrastructure like sidewalks, roads, and parks, and represent about 10 percent of the total investment identified in the City’s 10-Year Sustainable Infrastructure Plan.  The institutions’ new investment reflects the reality that these institutions both impact and value City infrastructure like roads and sidewalks.

 

The contribution each institution makes is proportionate to its relative operating revenues – UVM agrees to contribute an additional $386,000 annually for 20 years and Champlain agrees to contribute an additional $61,890 for the same timeframe for a total annual amount of $447,890 per year.

 

If the bond is approved by the voters on Town Meeting Day (March 6, 2018), these revenues would be used to pay for the debt service for a 20-year bond the City would take out to pay for infrastructure needs. The City would only bond for an amount that could be covered by the annual contribution from UVM and Champlain of $447,890. While exact market conditions cannot be predicted, assuming that amount for debt service and a conservative four percent interest rate on a 20-year bond would allow the City to bond for about $6 million, or about 10 percent of the expanded capital infrastructure investment projected in the City’s 10-Year Sustainable Infrastructure Plan. Of the $50 million Plan, the City has already bonded for approximately $36 million thanks to the support of nearly 76 percent of City voters in November 2016.

For more details, please see the Mayor’s Memo on the UVM and Champlain College Capital Plan Contribution.

 

Continuing Progress towards Sustainable Infrastructure Goals

The partnership between the City of Burlington, UVM, and Champlain College will continue the City’s progress towards achieving its Sustainable Infrastructure Plan goals, which include more proactively maintaining and replacing its streets, sidewalks, water mains, and more.

 

The City completed its first season of planned infrastructure improvement projects in November 2017, with a focus on road repaving, sidewalk reconstruction and upgrading the City’s aging water infrastructure along multiple streets. By the end of the season, DPW completed five miles of road repaving (compared to a recent average of three miles/year), reconstructed over three miles of sidewalk (recent average, just over one mile/year) and proactively upgraded nearly three miles of water main (versus decades of only pursuing reactive replacement of broken pipes).

 

The City will begin its second season of Sustainable Infrastructure projects in spring 2018.

 

 

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Press Release Date: 
02/07/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 30, 2018
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

City of Burlington Achieves Major Financial Milestones
City Council Approves First Clean Audit in 15 Years; Fiscal Health Report Details $12.6 Million in Savings Thanks to Credit Rating Upgrades; Financial Strength Allows City to Continue Investing in Programs and Initiatives to Benefit All Residents

 

Burlington, VT – At the City Council meeting on Monday, January 29, 2018, Council accepted and approved the City of Burlington’s Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) audit and management letter and Fiscal Health Report issued by the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). These documents capture major financial progress over the past six years in two primary respects:
 

  • First, in January 2018, the City of Burlington received its first audit and management letter in 15 years with zero findings and no “Material” or “Significant” weaknesses. This represents a dramatic change since the City was downgraded to the edge of junk bond status in 2012, and received a FY12 audit with 27 findings, of which twelve were identified as “Material Weakness,” and one was a “Significant Deficiency.” Material weaknesses are serious concerns for municipalities because they indicate that a “reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the entity’s financial statements will not be prevented, or detected and corrected on a timely basis.”  Such conditions can lead to preventable losses or waste of public funds, abuse, and inaccurate budgeting. 
  • Second, the CAO’s Fiscal Health Report finds that the reforms of the City’s financial operations indicated by the management letter and other substantial improvements to the City’s financial health have led to credit rating upgrades that have saved taxpayers and ratepayers millions of dollars. Of the six ratings steps that Burlington lost between July 2010 and June 2012 in the wake of Burlington Telecom’s financial struggles, four have now been restored in three upgrades over the last three years. These upgrades have resulted in total net present value (NPV) savings of approximately $12.6 million in current dollars (or $18.9 million in gross dollars over the terms of the bonds the City has taken on since the upgrades began) [1].  Of this total, the NPV savings for the Burlington School District since the credit rating upgrades began is $1.7 million. These savings will continue to grow dramatically each year as the City and Schools take on new debt in a period of substantial public investment. These savings keep money in the pockets of Burlingtonians and have helped make it possible for the City to make new investments in our infrastructure, public safety, parks, and social programs with minimal tax increases (the municipal property tax rate is only .2 percent higher in FY18 than it was in FY15).

Mayor Miro Weinberger released the following statement regarding the FY17 management letter and Fiscal Health Report:

 

“The new management letter and Fiscal Health Report show that the broad financial progress of the last six years is compounding and dramatically benefiting the pocketbooks and quality of life of Burlingtonians. With our financial foundation sound and strengthening, the City is in good position to both continue to invest in core public infrastructure, public safety, and our kids, and to contain municipal property tax increases. I thank our CAO’s Office and Department heads for working for this progress day in and day out, and am grateful for the partnership of the City Council and Burlington voters in this effort.”

 

Karen Paul, CPA, Ward 6 City Councilor and Board of Finance Member, and sponsor of the Council Resolution adopting the management letter and Fiscal Health Report, stated: “The City’s Fiscal Year 2017 audit and management letter are milestone accomplishments. They are the result of relentless efforts on the part of many to see that fair and transparent financial reporting is the cornerstone principle in our financial processes. Our City’s financial health is strong. It is critical that we continue on this course, which I believe will result in seeing our rating restored to pre-2010 levels in time.”

 

[1] This figure represents total savings over the life of the new bonds issued since the City’s financial turnaround began in 2014.

 

 

* See Fiscal Year 2017 Management Letter and Fiscal Health Report

 

* See Fiscal Year 2012 Management Letter for comparison

 

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Press Release Date: 
01/30/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

Mayor Weinberger Responds to Attorney General Sessions Statement and Department of Justice Letter

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger released the following statement today in response to Attorney General Sessions’ statement and the Department of Justice Letter:

 

“Attorney General Sessions and President Trump can repeat and escalate their threats of arrests and subpoenas all they want – we will keep defending public safety in Burlington, standing up to federal overreach, and standing up for our values. The City of Burlington continues to maintain its compliance with federal civil immigration law section 1373, and categorically rejects AG Sessions’ false assertion that the City is in any way protecting criminals. Burlington police will continue to pursue the practices and policies that have made our city one of the safest and most welcoming cities in America, and we will resist the federal government’s unconstitutional attempt to deputize our officers as civil immigration agents. 

 

“The City intends to supply the additional documents requested by the February 23 deadline and will continue to fully comply with the Justice Department’s inquiries.”

 

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Press Release Date: 
01/24/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 24, 2018
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

**Please scroll down below the press release for a copy of the Vermont Mayors Coalition 2018 Legislative Policy Summary.

 

Vermont Mayors Coalition 2018 Legislative Session Goals

Mayors Push for Important Changes Related to Opioid Policy, Mental Health Reform, Clean Water, Environmental & Energy Policy, Public Safety, and Measures to Strengthen Downtowns

 

Montpelier, VT – The Vermont Mayors Coalition (VMC) today announced its 2018 legislative session goals and its commitment to collaborate on and advocate for these areas of common interest for their cities and towns. At a news conference in the State House Cedar Creek Room, the Coalition released its legislative policy summary for the 2018 legislative session, which includes:

 

  • Catalyzing Efforts to Address Opioid Use Disorders
  • Supporting Urgent Mental Health Reforms
  • Implementing a Common Sense Approach to Clean Water Funding
  • Supporting Measures Designed to Help Preserve Vermont’s Incredible Natural Environment
  • Reforming the Police Training Curriculum in Vermont
  • Supporting Housing and Downtown Tax Credits

 

The VMC was created in 2013 by Vermont’s eight Mayors. Six Mayors must concur on any recommendation for the Vermont Mayors Coalition to take a position. The eight Mayors of the VMC are: 

 

  • Dave Allaire, Rutland
  • Mike Daniels, Vergennes;
  • Liz Gamache, St. Albans;
  • John Hollar, Montpelier;
  • Thom Lauzon, Barre;
  • Seth Leonard, Winooski;
  • Paul Monette, Newport; and
  • Miro Weinberger, Burlington.

The Mayors offered the following statements about the issues of common interest they are collaborating on and advocating for during the 2018 legislative session:

 

Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon: “From Saint Albans to Barre to Brattleboro, Vermont’s investments in our downtowns and housing stock are paying huge economic and social dividends. Vermont’s Downtown and Village Center Tax Credit program has been an incredibly effective and efficient redevelopment tool for cities and towns across Vermont. An increase in this common sense program will yield even greater returns. In addition, as we all look forward to deploying millions of dollars in new housing capital as a result of the 35 million dollars housing bond, the Homeowner Tax Credit pilot program will ensure that the importance of investments in our existing housing stock isn’t overlooked. These strategic investments will ensure the availability and affordability of hundreds of homes for years to come.”

 

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger: “Vermont continues to lead the way in fighting the opioid epidemic, but there is still much more we can and must do to save lives and turn the tide of this terrible crisis. The Mayors Coalition is united in believing that increasing access to the data in the State’s prescription monitoring system, expanding medication assisted treatment options in prisons and emergency rooms, and reviewing our treatment protocols will make a meaningful difference in the lives of thousands of Vermonters.”

 

Montpelier Mayor John Hollar: "I'm pleased to join with Vermont's other mayors in support of these important public health initiatives. Mayors see firsthand the need for policy changes in the areas of substance abuse, mental health and clean water." 

 

St. Albans Mayor Liz Gamache: “Clean water is vital to economies and communities in our cities and towns. Pollution, particularly in Lake Champlain, is having a negative effect on the quality of life of many Vermonters. I’m proud to stand with the Vermont Mayors Coalition to protect our waterways and support the creation of a statewide Clean Water Authority to implement Vermont’s total management of daily load in a way that is effective, fair, and efficient.”

Winooski Mayor Seth Leonard: “Let us be clear that Vermont is competing for a piece of the modern economy and the 21st century workforce that is critical to driving our State's future. We must be unrelenting in our dedication to invest in sustaining and creating vibrant, livable communities where each generation of Vermont has an opportunity to thrive. The VMC recognizes the importance of supporting homeownership opportunities for Vermonters, creating financial tools for our village and downtown centers, and developing initiatives to improve our State's aging housing stock. These priorities are the backbone of our State's effort to be competitive while also doing it ‘the Vermont way.’ Continued investments in housing and economic development will ensure we are a state where our residents love to live, our businesses are able to grow, and our communities thrive.”

 

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Vermont Mayors Coalition

Legislative Session Goals
2018 Legislative Session

 

The Vermont Mayors Coalition (VMC) is advocating for State action to support municipalities in the following six areas:

Catalyzing Efforts to Address Opioid Use Disorders

 

The VMC supports the efforts of the Scott Administration to continue the work of prior administrations and improve the State’s response to what has become the most pressing public health crisis of our time. The Mayors believe that specific changes detailed below are urgently needed to begin addressing this crisis.

 

  1. Expand access to the information in the Vermont Prescription Monitoring System (VPMS).  Vermont should leverage the power of transparency by using our rich and comprehensive prescription monitoring data to inform assessments and decisions made by doctors, elected officials, public health professionals, government agencies, researchers and members of the public.  At a minimum, the VMC supports the UVM Medical Center (UVMMC) data transparency efforts internally and the Medical Center’s proposal to responsibly expand access to VPMS to allow for research to be completed on prescription habits.  Vermont should look to best practices in Massachusetts and other states to establish new standards for expanded access.

 

  1. Continue State efforts to restrict the over-prescribing of opioids.  The VMC applauds the State’s recent promulgation of new, restrictive prescribing standards and is encouraged by the early results.  Nonetheless, until definitive evidence exists that prescribers have stopped creating new addictions, additional controls should be considered, including:
    • Banning advertising and physician marketing of opioid products and related products.
    • Notifying the prescriber and the medical board every time a prescription kills.
    • Requiring all insurers to implement pre-authorization requirements for any new opioid prescription of more than three days’ duration.

 

  1. Expand medication assisted treatment (MAT) in Vermont prisons. The Department of Corrections has already implemented changes in recent months to improve prisoner access to medication assisted treatment. The Mayors appreciate the Department’s efforts, and believe that further steps are necessary to save Vermonters’ lives. Specifically, the Mayors call for the Department to take the following steps, and urge the Legislature to provide the limited additional necessary funding required to:
    • Apply a consistent treatment regime across all Vermont facilities that includes eliminating the 120-day limit on MAT treatment for individuals incarcerated;
    • Clarify and consistently apply a transition protocol, to include MAT medications and naloxone, for those departing prison with a history of opioid use disorder; 
    • Expand assessment for MAT eligibility to include crimes with an opioid use disorder nexus; and
    • Support a pilot allowing two Vermont prisons to become certified and accredited opioid treatment programs (OTPs) while utilizing best practice assessment protocols. Upon entry into a correctional facility (regardless of sentencing status), all inmates will undergo an addiction (co-occurring) assessment to identify diagnosis and appropriate treatment protocols to include MAT.

 

  1. Establish standards for immediate start of MAT in all emergency departments and supportive follow-up.  Such new protocols are being implemented by UVMMC as a result of the CommunityStat collaboration in Burlington.  Vermont should consider supporting this promising strategy for expanding the State’s effective Hub and Spoke treatment effort.

 

  1. Request a study reviewing Vermont’s short-term residential treatment protocols in comparison with national best practices. Vermont is a compassionate state that exerts great efforts to help those struggling with addiction. The investments we as a community make should be structured to provide the best possible opportunity for success. Answers to important questions, however, are not clear – does a less than 30-day treatment regime work well for addressing opioid addiction? What protocols or practices work best in other states, and does Vermont use similar approaches? What are treatment outcomes in Vermont, and do they differ from what other states experience? The Mayors believe that there is some evidence that short-duration treatment programs are ineffectual for opioid use disorders, and that the Legislature should task the Agency of Human Services with reviewing best practices, considering implementing changes based on this review, and reporting back to the Legislature prior to the next session.

 

Mental Health Reforms

 

The VMC believes Vermonters with acute mental illness are unable to access consistently the right care, at the right time, in the right setting.  Increasingly, the lack of adequate access to appropriate mental health care places our constituents at an unacceptable risk of harm.  It also makes it more difficult for our first responders and medical providers to protect and care for our citizens, at significant monetary and non-monetary costs to our cities and towns.  

 

The mental health treatment crisis is most visible in our hospital emergency rooms, where patients often wait days for an inpatient or other appropriate residential treatment settings to become available.  This compromises providers’ ability to care for these and other patients and families in need of emergency medical care. 

 

An increasing number of patients with mental illness enter the health care system through the criminal justice system, often after an encounter with law enforcement officers and a court appearance.  Those encounters carry unique risks and burdens to patients, officers, and court staff alike.  In the absence of an appropriately sized mental health treatment system, many patients are not receiving appropriate care.

 

Cities and towns are working hard to address the mental health crisis.  For instance, we are providing our first responders with specialized training and partnering with mental health treatment providers to make crisis counseling available on our cities’ streets and in our citizens’ homes.  But those efforts cannot effectively help the most acutely ill citizens who need a higher level of care. 

 

The Mayors support policies and investments that improve inpatient and other residential mental health treatment capacity for Vermonters in need, particularly those who have become involved in the criminal justice system. The Mayors call for:

 

  1. The prioritization of construction of a State-owned and operated facility to provide court-ordered mental health assessment and treatment to criminal defendants (a so-called “forensic facility”). 
  2. The temporary repurposing of an existing State facility while a permanent facility is constructed to address the inhumane, often long-term placement of the mentally ill in hospital emergency departments. 

 

Clean Water

 

In 2015, the State of Vermont passed the landmark Vermont Clean Water Act (H.64), designed to protect Vermont’s lakes and streams from excess nutrients such as phosphorus.

 

The Mayors strongly support the creation of a statewide Clean Water Authority to implement Vermont’s total management of daily load (TMDL) plan in a way that is effective, fair, and efficient.  The Mayors continue to support a target for State funding a percentage of each TMDL investment area and to believe a tiered per parcel fee that reflects each parcel’s usage and impact is the fairest and most sustainable funding mechanism to support clean water.

 

The VMC remains strongly opposed to the State increasing the sales and use or rooms, meals, and alcoholic beverage taxes, as those are already primary sources of municipal revenue. To the degree that the State continues to fund cleanup efforts through a real estate transfer tax, the State should strongly consider the use of a transfer tax assessed against the Seller, rather than the Purchaser. 

 

Environmental/Energy

 

During the summer of 2017, members of the Vermont Mayors Coalition joined Governor Scott and many leaders from around the State to launch the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition. The Coalition’s goal is to help achieve the December 2015 Paris Climate Agreement pledge by the United States and to mitigate the impact of the Federal government’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

 

Vermont municipalities, non-profits, colleges and universities, businesses, and community members have joined the Coalition and in doing so have committed to reduce carbon emissions in an effort to help Vermont meet the U.S. commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions levels from 2005 by 26-28 percent by 2025.

 

In the spirit of this effort, the Mayors call on the Legislature to take two steps in 2018:

 

  1. Support a study of the Essex Plan, a revenue neutral proposal that would capitalize on the remarkable Vermont power grid and its renewable energy foundation to help the State reduce carbon emissions while lowering electricity costs.

 

  1. Prioritize continued investments in electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, to make electric vehicle alternatives even more desirable.

 

Reforming the Police Training Curriculum in Vermont

The Mayors again call on the Administration to review the training curriculum, certifying exams, and structure of the Criminal Justice Training Council. Vermont has good reason to be proud of its police agencies and the initial training those officers receive at the Police Academy in Pittsford, Vermont. The Academy trains officers to serve a wide range of communities across the State. The Mayors believe those communities should have a voice on the Council that runs the Academy, and urge the Legislature and Administration to consider revising the existing appointment structure of the Council to give Vermont’s cities and towns a voice in the training their officers receive, given the unique needs encountered in policing Vermont’s population centers. The Mayors also believe the Criminal Justice Training Council should have a clear oversight authority within State Government, whether the Attorney General or the Commissioner of Public Safety.

 

Housing and Downtown Tax Credits

 

The Vermont Mayors Coalition looks forward to working with all our partners and with Legislature to expand our efforts to grow the economy and build strong communities. The Mayors call on the Legislature to:

 

  1. Support a $250,000 increase in downtown and village center tax credits that offset the costs of rehabilitation and major investments in elevators, sprinklers and other code improvements needed to make downtown buildings safe and accessible. Vermont’s Mayors have seen firsthand how downtown tax credits positively affect communities and entire regions. The State historic tax credit program is one of the most effective redevelopment programs the State offers – with every dollar of tax credit leveraging an average of $17 in outside investment. These investments have helped transform communities – supporting new housing, attracting new businesses, fostering business expansions, and creating good jobs in downtowns and villages across the state. We are pleased that the Governor is committed to downtown revitalization and is continuing to make investments to make them stronger.

 

  1. Support a $625,000 Homeowner Tax Credit pilot program to improve the quality and quantity of housing in and around downtowns and village centers. Despite the $35 million housing bond and the good work of many Vermont-based institutions to improve and increase the supply of housing in Vermont, there is a growing gap between existing housing availability and need. More public investment in homes that are affordable, desirable, and within a reasonable distance of work, schools or shopping, is needed to attract and house the young families and the workforce needed for businesses and communities to thrive. The Governor’s proposal to pilot a homeowner tax credit will show that strategic investments will help communities address this need by improving the quality and quantity of housing opportunities in and around downtowns and villages. It will also help improve an aging housing stock and aid homeowners.

 

  1. Support $125,000 tax credit increase for Vermont Down Payment Assistance Program. Vermont’s first-time homebuyers have long struggled to afford a home due to the ongoing disconnect between high home prices and wages. The Vermont Legislature added funding to the Vermont Affordable Housing Tax Credit in 2015 for the creation of a statewide down payment assistance program to be administered by the VT Housing Finance Agency. This has been an invaluable tool getting first time borrowers into homeownership, however, due to higher than expected needs from primarily young homebuyers, demand for the program has been more than double the initial projections.  To continue serving this need, an increase of $125,000 in State housing tax credits which is a five year credit for investors. The repayments of the DPA loan, which are due on sale or refinance, will create a revolving loan funds for future assistance.

 

 

 

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Press Release Date: 
01/24/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 11, 2018
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

Mayor Weinberger Statement on the Governor’s Opioid Coordination Council Report

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger released the following statement today in response to Governor Scott’s Opioid Coordination Council Report:

“I welcome the Governor’s Opioid Coordination Council (OCC) report and the year of hard work that went into outlining its strategies to begin addressing this terrible challenge. Opioid addiction is the single biggest public health challenge we face not just as a City, but as a State and a country. It is taking an appalling toll on our communities, affecting the lives of everyone from those struggling daily with addiction, to their family and friends, to the first responders and treatment providers who work to bring many back from the brink of death. 

“Now it is the job of everyone involved in the opioid epidemic to turn the OCC’s report into urgent action. We look forward to working with the Governor to make near-term progress on many of the initiatives highlighted in the report, including expanding medically assisted treatment in prisons, creating much-needed sober housing, and increasing data sharing between agencies working on this challenge. This is a terrible and humbling crisis, but I believe there are changes we can make that could produce meaningful results for many in our community and across the State.”

 

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Press Release Date: 
01/11/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

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