FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 4, 2018
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

Mayor Weinberger Commends Vermont Legislature for Passage of S. 166

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today commended the Vermont Legislature for its passage on May 4, 2018 of S. 166, a bill that will vastly improve how those struggling with opioid addiction are assessed and treated in prisons across Vermont:

 

“Today’s passage by the Legislature of S. 166 marks an important milestone in our efforts to free Burlington and Vermont from the grip of the terrible opioid epidemic, which now takes the lives of over 100 Vermonters every year. Guaranteeing State prisoners access to addiction medicines will save lives – Rhode Island saw a 60 percent drop in overdose deaths among individuals being released from prison after putting in place comparable protections – and it will create hope that incarceration can lead to rehabilitation for the hundreds of Vermonters who are imprisoned every year as a direct result of their struggle with addiction. Thank you to the legislators who advocated for this bill’s passage, the Department of Health for its partnership in the fight against the opioid epidemic, and the Agency of Human Services’ Department of Corrections for having already taken great strides towards providing medication-assisted treatment in its prisons. Burlington and Chittenden County look forward to continuing our collaborative, urgent work with the State on this issue.”

 

 

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Press Release Date: 
05/04/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 2, 2018
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

City of Burlington Issues Annual Report on Livable Wage Ordinance
Finds Broad Compliance, Takes Enforcement Actions against Violations for the First Time

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger and City Attorney Eileen Blackwood today released the annual report of actions the City of Burlington has taken in Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) to enforce the City’s Livable Wage Ordinance, which requires City employees and employees of contractors retained by the City to earn a livable wage. The City investigated two new complaints, conducted three records compliance checks, and for the first time issued municipal tickets for a Livable Wage violation and suspended the business from operating as a City contractor. The contractor has paid the waiver fee of $200 for each of five tickets, has supplied each employee with restitution for lost wages, and has been suspended from working on City contracts for nine months until June 1.
 

“The City’s Livable Wage enforcement system in 2013 did little to ensure that City of Burlington contractors complied with the Ordinance,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “For more than five years, we have worked to fix the system, and this fiscal year we took strong enforcement actions to ensure that covered workers are paid the wages they deserve. This progress would not have been possible without the hard work and diligence of our City Attorney’s Office, CAO, and Designated Accountability Monitor.”
 

“Over the past five years, the City Attorney’s Office, the CAO and the Designated Accountability Monitor have committed to increasing awareness and understanding of, and compliance with, the City’s Livable Wage Ordinance by ensuring annual certifications are received from contractors, conducting trainings and disseminating information, responding to complaints, and now in FY18 commencing regular compliance checks and imposing enforcement penalties,” said City Attorney Eileen Blackwood. “Our goal in the coming fiscal year is to work on targeted training for City staff and contractors, while continuing to hold the City and its contractors accountable for ensuring that all covered employees receive a livable wage.”
 

Background: Five Years of Ordinance Reform and Increased Enforcement
The City of Burlington adopted its Livable Wage Ordinance in 2001, however, there was little enforcement of the ordinance with respect to City contractors in the years leading up to 2013.  In 2013, at Mayor Weinberger’s direction, City Attorney Eileen Blackwood and the City Attorney’s Office conducted a comprehensive review of all City contracts covered by the ordinance, finding that fewer than half of the 160 contracts reviewed even referenced the Livable Wage and only 14 percent were in full compliance.  Immediately after the report, the City began enforcing the Ordinance aggressively, including the requirements that contractors provide an annual certification of compliance with the Ordinance and incorporating compliance language into contracts.  A Livable Wage webpage was created to provide better access to the Livable Wage information. 

 

In October 2013, the City amended the Ordinance to clarify the type of contracts included in it and to include certain seasonal or temporary employees of the City.  In addition, compliance provisions were added to allow the City’s Chief Administrative Officer to conduct compliance checks and the City Attorney’s Office to investigate complaints and impose penalties.  The revised Ordinance also calls for the appointment of a Designated Accountability Monitor that provides training, reviews employee complaints, and monitors workplaces, as well as the establishment of an annual Livable Wage report to the City Council from the City Attorney’s Office.
 

FY18 and FY19 Livable Wage
In FY18, the livable wage for City employees remained the same as FY17:  $14.24 if the employer offers health insurance, $15.83 if it does not.

 

Pursuant to the City of Burlington Code of Ordinances, Chapter 21, Article VI, section 21-82(b), the livable wage rates for covered employers, including the City of Burlington, for Fiscal Year 2019 (as of July 1, 2018), will be $14.52 per hour if the employer offers health insurance, or $16.20 if the employer does not.
 

This notice and the livable wage has been posted in City Hall, on the City's webpage, circulated to City departments, provided to the Designated Accountability Monitor, and is available at the Clerk/Treasurer's Office. A copy of this notice will also be provided to covered employers who request individual notice and provide contact information.
 

* See FY18 Annual Report on Livable Wage Ordinance

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Press Release Date: 
05/02/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 18, 2018
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces City Leadership Changes
Beth Anderson Appointed Permanent Chief Administrative Officer; Chief of Staff Brian Lowe Appointed Acting Chief Innovation Officer; Jordan Redell Appointed Chief of Staff

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today announced changes in three City leadership positions: the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO), and the Chief of Staff. The Mayor appointed Beth Anderson the CAO, named former Chief of Staff Brian Lowe the Acting CIO, and appointed Jordan Redell to serve as his new Chief of Staff.

 

Anderson became the City’s first-ever Chief Innovation Officer in June 2015, quickly earning a reputation as a strong and thoughtful leader with a clear vision for improvements to the City’s IT and analytical capacity that have saved taxpayer dollars and delivered better services to the City. In September 2017, the Mayor asked her to serve as the Interim CAO, overseeing the City’s finances in addition to her CIO role. She has excelled in all her duties, and the Mayor will seek Council confirmation for her position as the permanent CAO at the Council’s April 30 meeting.

 

“Beth’s service to the City includes impressive work on diverse and difficult assignments,” said Mayor Weinberger. “She has earned the respect and trust of her colleagues and proven herself a responsible and far-sighted steward of public resources. I feel fortunate to have her stepping into the permanent CAO role.”

 

“It is an honor to be asked by Mayor Weinberger to lead the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office in a permanent capacity,” said Anderson.  “I have accepted this permanent position knowing that the City’s innovation efforts, and the talented IT team, will be in good hands. I look forward to continuing to work with the Clerk-Treasurer’s department in its efforts to further strengthen the City’s finances.”

 

Lowe has served as the Chief of Staff since July 2015, helping advance numerous projects and initiatives, including the CityPlace Burlington redevelopment project, the City’s comprehensive capital planning efforts, the collaborative reform of the retirement system, the negotiation of landmark infrastructure financing agreements with City non-profit institutions, as well as daily operational and administrative issues that involve the Mayor’s Office, Department Heads, City Council, organizations, and institutions in the City of Burlington.

 

“Brian has been an incredibly committed, hard-working, and effective Chief of Staff,” said Mayor Weinberger. “I am excited that he has agreed to take on new responsibilities advancing our data analysis, technology, and continuous improvements efforts as Acting CIO. He will bring the same integrity, leadership, and dedication to this new role as he has demonstrated repeatedly over the past three years.”

“Serving as the Mayor’s Chief of Staff has been an honor and a joy, and I look forward to working with the talented Innovation and Technology team at a time when cities are learning how to apply advances in technology to improve operations and benefit residents,” said Lowe. 

Prior to successfully managing the Mayor’s 2018 re-election campaign, Redell worked in the Mayor’s Office for over two years as the Administrative Coordinator, facilitating Mayor’s Office operations, acting as a liaison between constituents and City Departments, and collaborating with local and national organizations, including the Mayor’s Innovation Project, to further City initiatives. In addition, she served as a member of the Housing Trust Fund and organized major events, including Town Hall meetings and community forums.

“During her time in the Mayor’s Office, Jordan has earned the respect of many inside and outside the Administration by skillfully facilitating progress on numerous mayoral initiatives,” said Mayor Weinberger. “As my Campaign Manager, Jordan demonstrated her tenacity, creativity, hard work, great judgement, and good humor, and I am excited that she is bringing these talents back to the Mayor’s Office.”

 

“I am honored to serve the City in this new capacity,” said Redell. “I look forward to working with Mayor Weinberger and our incredible team of City employees to continue our efforts to make Burlington a vibrant, affordable, and welcoming city.” 

 

Lowe and Redell began serving in their new roles today.

 

*Please see resumes for AndersonLowe, and Redell, as well as a City leadership team photo.

 

# # #

Press Release Date: 
04/18/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 13, 2018
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces CEDO Director Noelle MacKay is Departing City to Accept Position as Chief Operating Officer of the Regulatory Assistance Project
MacKay to Conclude Successful Tenure on May 25; City of Burlington to Conduct Open Search Process for Successor

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today announced that Community & Economic Development Office (CEDO) Director Noelle MacKay will be accepting the role of Chief Operating Officer at the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), and will be concluding her successful tenure with the City on May 25. RAP is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating the transition to a clean, reliable, and efficient energy future, and has offices in Montpelier, Europe, and China. As CEDO Director since 2016, MacKay played a critical role in a number of important community and development projects, including leading the City’s engagement with the CityPlace Burlington and new marina projects, overseeing CEDO’s lead program, and supporting the growth and development of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative and restorative practices in partnership with the Burlington School District. 
 

“I am grateful for Noelle’s service to the City of Burlington and our community,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “Noelle has done skillful work advancing projects that will transform our downtown and waterfront, as well as overseeing impactful community initiatives, all of which has helped Burlington better realize its promise as a city of opportunity for people of all backgrounds to live, work, and thrive.”
 

“Serving the City of Burlington has been an incredible privilege,” said Noelle MacKay. “I will miss the passion and dedication of the Mayor and the entire City team, who Burlingtonians are lucky to have working for them. I am excited to take on the new challenge of serving as COO of the Regulatory Assistance Project.”
 

Prior to becoming the CEDO Director, MacKay served for five years as the Executive Director of Smart Growth Vermont, and for five years as Commissioner of the Department of Housing and Community Development, where she focused on developing housing policy, overseeing the Mobile Home Park Program, coordinating recovery efforts after Hurricane Irene, and strengthening Vermont’s downtowns.

 

MacKay intends to continue to serve as CEDO Director through May 25, and may continue some project-specific duties as a consultant beyond her departure date. The Mayor’s Office will be publicly posting the CEDO Director position in the weeks ahead. Anyone interested in learning more can contact the City at mayor@burlingtonvt.gov.

 

 

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Press Release Date: 
04/13/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 11, 2018
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

Mayor Weinberger Statement Regarding Continued Strong Support for the F-35 Basing at Burlington International Airport
 

Burlington, VT Today, Mayor Miro Weinberger announced that, following a thorough review of concerns raised recently by the public and media, he will continue to strongly support the planned F-35 basing at the Burlington International Airport. His review included consultation with Vermont Air National Guard (VTANG) and Federal officials, who provided detailed answers addressing noise and public safety concerns. Based on the results of this review, the Mayor will not sign the City Council resolution approved on March 26, 2018 that requests the U.S. Air Force to consider an alternative mission to the F-35, the first time the Mayor will not sign a Council resolution.

 

“As I committed prior to the Town Meeting Day vote, I have looked anew at the specific concerns raised in recent months by the public and the media about the F-35 basing, and carefully considered the Council’s vote,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “After completing this review, I continue to strongly support the basing of the F-35s at Burlington International Airport and have concluded that I cannot responsibly approve the Council resolution.”

 

In a letter that accompanied the Council’s resolution to the Secretary of the U.S. Air Force on Monday, April 9, the Mayor noted that he would not extend the divisive debate at the City Council indefinitely by vetoing the resolution. Accordingly, the resolution will take effect on April 16 without the Mayor’s signature or support. In his letter, the Mayor also emphasized the importance of providing answers to the questions outlined by the Council to help alleviate many of the concerns in the community and contribute to the successful basing of the F-35s at Burlington International Airport.

 

In a separate op-ed published in Vermont Digger on April 11, the Mayor provided additional reasoning behind his decision, including a summation of the facts about F-35 noise and public safety concerns, the home buyout program, and the economic impact of the VTANG mission on the Airport and the region.

 

The op-ed is available here.

 

Please also see:

 

* Mayor Weinberger’s letter to U.S. Air Force Secretary Dr. Heather Wilson.

 

* City Council’s F-35 resolution approved on March 26, 2018.

 

* Dr. Jane Kolodinsky’s opinion on F-35 ballot item wording.

Press Release Date: 
04/11/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 10, 2018
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

City to Support Burlington Workforce, Businesses during CityPlace Burlington and Other Upcoming Construction Projects
CEDO to Offer $65,000 Workforce Education and Training Fund Grant and to Assist Businesses Adjacent to CityPlace Burlington in Collaboration with Church Street Marketplace and Burlington Business Association

Burlington, VT Today, Mayor Miro Weinberger, Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) Assistant Director Gillian Nanton, and Director of ReSOURCE YouthBuild Andrew Jope announced two initiatives to support Burlington’s workforce and businesses during the CityPlace Burlington (formerly Burlington Town Center) and other upcoming construction projects.

 

On February 9, 2018, the Vermont Department of Labor awarded the City of Burlington and CEDO a $65,000 Workforce Education and Training Fund (WETF) Grant for Fiscal Year 2018 for the purpose of training under-represented population groups in construction trades and safety training. The Board of Finance approved accepting this WETF grant at its meeting on Monday, April 9.

 

CEDO has also been working on a new Business Assistance program paid for by Devonwood Investors to provide support to businesses adjacent to the CityPlace Burlington project, with the goal of helping to minimize construction impacts and allowing these businesses to thrive during construction. Support will include workshops, one-on-one assistance, and promotional events catered to the needs of the area businesses. In addition to this support, CEDO will also be providing direct assistance to businesses in collaboration with the Church Street Marketplace and Burlington Business Association.

 

“The CityPlace Burlington project has already created opportunities for hundreds of local residents in the design, planning and construction fields,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger.  “With this new program and other efforts, CEDO is working to ensure that construction opportunities on this and other projects benefit all Burlingtonians.”

 

“CEDO, along with its partners, has a long and proud history of working with low-income residents and other under-represented populations to fight poverty,” said CEDO Assistant Director Gillian Nanton. “This $65,000 grant will open doors of opportunity and help train our local workforce to benefit from the hundreds of livable wage construction jobs that will become available through CityPlace Burlington, Cambrian Rise, and other exciting development projects. We’re also looking forward to working with Devonwood Investors and our community partners to support local businesses during the CityPlace Burlington construction period, to ensure that they thrive and remain a part of this new downtown neighborhood.”

 

Preparing Burlington’s Workforce for Hundreds of New Construction Jobs

The City of Burlington has several major development projects which are at various stages in the project development cycle. These projects include CityPlace Burlington (CPB), a multi-million-dollar, mixed-use, public-private development that will include 288 new housing units; Cambrian Rise, a nearly 700-unit housing development on the former site of Burlington College on North Avenue, and a 75-unit apartment building across from the University of Vermont Medical Center. Over the next three to five years, these and other development projects will create hundreds of skilled entry level and higher-wage construction and construction-related jobs, as well as permanent jobs upon completion.

 

The official unemployment rate in Burlington and South Burlington, like the rest of Vermont, continues to remain low, and stood at 2.2 percent in January 2018. Meanwhile, employers continue to add jobs, and report across the State that they are unable to find enough workers to fill open positions. The construction industry is no exception. According to the Vermont Department of Labor/VLMI-supplied occupational data, Vermont has a shortage of construction trades workers, including laborers and carpenters, through 2022. What’s more, policy makers note that official statistics can mask much higher levels of unemployment and underemployment among targeted or under-represented population groups.

 

CEDO applied for funding through the Vermont Department of Labor Fiscal Year 2018 WETF Grant to train under-represented population groups in construction trades and safety training. In February 2018, the City of Burlington/CEDO was awarded a $65,000 grant. The goal of the Preparing Targeted Populations for Construction Jobs” Program is to train about 20 persons from targeted populations, including low-income individuals, unemployed, young adults, and minority populations, including New Americans, so they are prepared and qualified for the hundreds of livable wage jobs that will arise from the several major development projects underway or in the pipeline in Burlington. The Program will also help meet the shortage of skilled labor that currently exists in the construction industry in Vermont.

 

ReSOURCE, a key non-profit workforce development institution with a more than 25-year successful track record focusing on targeted population groups, will be sub-contracted to provide the training.

 

"ReSOURCE is excited to partner with CEDO to provide quality construction skills training to local people and to meet the needs of local employers,” said Andrew Jope, Director of ReSOURCE YouthBuild. “This program meets a critical need for skilled workers in the city in the coming years. Given ReSOURCE’s mission of empowering individuals and strengthening Vermont communities, and our long history of workforce development in Burlington, this project is a perfect fit.”

 

Over a one year period, ReSOURCE will deliver training in three phases for a total duration of 10 to 12 weeks. In the first phase, participants will undergo a six week intensive course, and upon successful completion earn the NCCER Construction Certification and OSHA-10 Workplace Safety Certification. Next, trainees will receive two weeks of Personal and Professional Development (PPD) skills training focused on ‘goal setting and achievement,’ ‘leadership development,’ and ‘financial literacy,’ among others. Upon completion of the PPD phase, participants will enter the third phase and begin trial On the Job Training (OJT) placements with partner employers for a period of two to four weeks.

 

The City anticipates that the first batch of trainees could begin their training in June 2018.

 

Offering Business Resiliency Support to Employers Adjacent to CityPlace Burlington
CEDO will be offering support to businesses adjacent to CityPlace Burlington through a third party consultan#t, as well as directly to businesses with the help of the Church Street Marketplace and Burlington Business Association. To select a consultant, CEDO put out an RFP on January 5, and has received five proposals for business assistance.

 

CEDO will be holding a meeting for area businesses on Wednesday, April 11 to gather input on how the City can best support them during construction. The City will use businesses’ input to tailor the workshops and one-on-one assistance to their needs.

 

# # #

Press Release Date: 
04/10/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 2, 2018
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

Mayor Miro Weinberger Sworn in for Third Term; Delivers 2018 State of the City Address
Reports State of Vermont’s City of Opportunity Is Very Strong; Will Grow Even Stronger in Years Ahead

 

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today delivered the State of the City Address in City Hall’s Contois Auditorium, during which he reported that the State of Vermont’s city of opportunity is very strong, and it will grow even stronger in the years ahead as we work to ensure that all residents benefit from our recent progress and have a voice in our future direction. The Mayor was joined by the Governor, the Attorney General, the City Council, City Department Heads, other members of the dedicated City employee team, and community members.  

 

“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,” said Mayor Weinberger. “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.”

 

The Mayor set forth five main themes and related goals of the City’s work ahead:

 

  • Collecting and analyzing data on City equity initiatives
    • Department Heads and the Chief Innovation Officer will begin measuring each department’s performance against new equity goals, and to track this data on the City’s public dashboard.
    • These statistics will be collected and analyzed in an annual Equity Report that will be published as part of the City’s traditional Annual Report starting next Town Meeting Day.

 

  • Working to turn the tide of the opioid crisis
    • Strongly supporting the passage of S.166 as a life-saving piece of legislation.
    • 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.

 

  • Continuing to build our Early Learning Initiative
    • 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.

 

  • Taking our next steps towards becoming a net zero energy city
    • Burlington Electric has been leading a unique partnership that would move the project to the advanced engineering and design phase and put us in position to resolve the feasibility of the effort by the end of the calendar year.
    • Our Chittenden County legislators have successfully moved forward legislation that would allow Burlington Electric to access over $1 million in thermal energy incentives to apply to district energy, taking the project one step closer to reality last week.

 

  • Strengthening our public engagement efforts
    • Completing and bringing to the Council for approval the City’s first Language Access Plan.
    • Bringing to the Council for discussion and approval a new public engagement handbook to guide our efforts to forward and improve City initiatives.
    • Working to review the role and responsibilities of the Neighborhood Planning Assemblies, and how the processes by which City Departments work with the NPAs and other stakeholders in our community can be improved.

 

The Mayor concluded his remarks by focusing on the link between these efforts to make Burlington more equitable, sustainable, and welcoming, and the City’s downtown housing and land use policies:

 

“… Communities that put up regulatory walls to stop change lock in some of their physical character, but they lose their community’s soul in the bargain. Young households and the middle class are pushed out by rising demand, and older, wealthier households, while low income households, refugees, and others seeking opportunity are blocked from ever getting in the door…

 

“Over the last six years, the Council and the voters have repeatedly taken action to open up new opportunities with our downtown development policies and we are now on a different trajectory. Since 2013, more than 1,200 downtown homes have been built or are in the construction pipeline. This effort is starting to work – vacancy rates are edging upwards, and landlords are reporting new price and quality pressure as they seek tenants, and this is happening even before the first of the major new downtown projects opens at Champlain College’s 194 St. Paul Street this fall.”

 

Please see the complete State of the City address below:

 

 

Good evening and welcome to Contois Auditorium for our annual celebration of democratic renewal and reflection on the well-being of Burlington, Vermont, a city of opportunity. I am very grateful to the people of this city for the chance tonight to take the oath of office for a third time. I will work very hard for the next three years to make good on the trust you have placed in me.

 

Thank you to Attorney General TJ Donovan for being part of this ceremony. Burlington is proud to have one of its own sons leading the State on immigration and law enforcement issues. I am grateful for your partnership on the opioid crisis and the adoption of 21st Century policing practices.

 

Thank you Governor Phil Scott for joining us tonight. Much of the work we do in this room and in this City is impacted by the debates and actions in Montpelier. I want to thank you for your leadership on housing affordability and efforts to address the opioid crisis. I also want to thank you for looking anew at the need for common sense gun reform here in Vermont. The courage and resolve to respond to events and change policy direction when needed is rare in American politics. The people of Burlington see and welcome your bravery on common sense gun reform – thank you for taking action to make Vermont safer for our police officers, domestic violence victims, and most importantly, our children!

 

The Governor doesn’t work alone in Montpelier. I also want to thank all of the State reps and Senators in the room today - it would be great if you could stand and be recognized.

 

Thank you Mayor Peter Clavelle and Betsy Ferries and Mayor Frank Cain and Mary Jane Cain for being here tonight and, moreover, for the years of service and sacrifice that you all have given and continue to give to the people of Burlington.

 

Thank you Mrs. Hartnett for joining us tonight with many other member of your family. Mrs. Hartnett has lived on Brookes Ave for 55 years, and volunteered for 25 years at the polls. Mrs. Hartnett, you have our respect not only because you’ve given so much to the City, and not only because you raised eight children here in Burlington, but also because you are the only person in this room who can keep Councilor Dave Hartnett in line.

 

General Stephen Cray and Lisa Cray, thank you for being here tonight and for all that you do to keep us safe, and to build the relationship between Vermont’s outstanding National Guard and the Burlington community.

 

I would like to ask our incredible team of Department Heads and the team from the Mayor’s Office to rise and be recognized for their outstanding work – it is one of the joys of this job that I get to work day in and out with such a fine group of colleagues.

 

I want to congratulate the recently re-elected City Councilors: Sharon Bushor, Ali Dieng, Chip Mason, Karen Paul, Adam Roof, Max Tracy, and Kurt Wright, and welcome back Brian Pine, who last sat at this table in 1995. I also want to recognize Councilors Richard Deane, Dave Hartnett, Jane Knodell, and Joan Shannon. I hope – and I will do my part to ensure – that our work together over the next year will be marked by the same principled debate, collaboration, and productivity that has defined our efforts for so much of the last six years.

 

Finally, I want to thank my parents Michael and Ethel for being here tonight, and for all your love, support, and good teachings over the years. And to my wonderful life partner Stacy, thank you. It would be impossible to do this job without your love, support, patience, and considerable sacrifice, and without the support of our wonderful girls, Li Lin and Ada.

 

I would like to start my report on the State of the City with some great news. The asphalt plants are about to open!

 

And with the Council and the voters’ support for millions of dollars of bonding, work will begin next week on more than five miles of paving that will be completed this season, including repairs of all the major arterials that were damaged so badly this winter.

 

The fact that we will be able to respond to a difficult winter so comprehensively is a function of our growing strength as a City in the areas that we have focused on together for the last six years: our municipal finances, downtown economic development and improving the City’s core infrastructure that supports our quality of life and economy.

 

In the last year, we secured another credit rating upgrade that will help save residents millions of dollars in the years ahead and keep this community more affordable. Fiscal responsibility is the foundation on which all of our successes, ambitious projects, and vision for the future are built.

 

Over the past 12 months, we rehabilitated and improved another three miles of our treasured Bike Path, and completed the first of five years of major investments in our streets, sidewalks, parks, and water lines.

 

We have broken ground on one of largest public-private investments in City history. Already, this project has created new contracts for dozens of local firms, and CEDO, the Department of Labor, and ReSource will be sharing more about their collaborative job-training and business resiliency efforts in the weeks ahead. When built, the City Place Burlington project will reduce our carbon footprint, create hundreds of new high-wage jobs, and reconnect the Old North End to the downtown.

 

And, after a difficult debate within this chamber, we acted with broad consensus to resolve the future of Burlington Telecom in a manner that protects taxpayers, secures enduring public benefits, and ensures that Burlingtonians – unlike a majority of Americans – will have high speed internet choice for generations to come.

 

While we are seeing progress on these initiatives and many more, the events of the last year, including the elections here on Town Meeting Day a month ago, have made plain that our community’s work towards a more just future is not done.

 

As in many successful American cities today, there are deep concerns within our community about the rising cost of housing pushing low and middle-income households out of Burlington, and frustration that this problem is not being addressed quickly or effectively enough. Some of our neighbors desire more and different City engagement. We have major unmet child care needs as a city, and we continue to grapple with how best to treat those struggling with opioid addictions. 

 

These challenges come at a time when the federal government is in a period of great uncertainty and failing to meet its fundamental responsibilities of addressing climate change, gun violence, immigration reform, and racial equality. Such national failures mean that we in Burlington must continue to step forward and lead at the local level. We can and we will provide this leadership.

 

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, that work will include progress and new efforts in five areas that I will detail tonight:

  • 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. 

 

I will then conclude with some thoughts on the link between these efforts to make Burlington more equitable, sustainable, and welcoming and our downtown housing and land use policies.

 

For the last year and a half, City employees have been meeting monthly for BTV Stat meetings – our data collection and analysis effort that attempts to measure and track the results achieved by City departments. To ensure that our City government is properly oriented towards achieving progress for all members of our community, in the year ahead we will be focusing BTV Stat on equity. I have asked our Department Heads and the Chief Innovation Officer to begin measuring each department’s performance against new equity goals, and to track this data on our public dashboard.

 

In addition, these statistics will be collected and analyzed in an annual Equity Report that will be published as part of the City’s traditional Annual Report starting next Town Meeting Day.

 

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. One of those lost was Sean Blake, age 27. Sean’s parents Kim and Tim, a doctor at the University of Vermont Medical Center and a professor at St. Michael’s, live just minutes from here in South Burlington. They wanted me to share Sean’s story this evening, as they did in this same room in February as part of the monthly Community Stat meeting Burlington convenes so that the region’s law enforcement, medical, treatment, and social service agencies can grapple with the challenges this crisis poses. The Blakes shared their son’s story in the hope that we can, as a community, learn from it.

 

Sean grew up here and loved the lake and mountains. He was bright, creative and active in theater and athletics. As a young man he struggled with bipolar disorder and addiction and he had an adulthood marked by dramatic rises and falls. After a brief stint in the Navy, Sean’s addiction dragged him downward to the point that he was incarcerated at Riker’s Island in New York City. There, his life started to turn for the better, as he received mental health treatment, and medicine to treat his addiction. He returned to Vermont with these supports in place, and did well until going off these medications. When he went off treatment, he returned to prison here in Vermont, where the medicine was unavailable. Just over a month after he was released last year, he overdosed and died. The Blakes couldn’t be here tonight because they are attending a memorial service for their son in Buffalo.

 

Vermont prisons have been among the leaders in the country in creating opportunities for opioid treatment. Yet as Sean’s story shows, we still have work to do. One of the most important bills before the legislature this year is S.166, which would continue to expand treatment options for people in Vermont’s prisons. The City strongly supports its passage as a life-saving piece of legislation and believes it will be an important step forward in this fight.

 

But expanding access to treatment in prisons is only one needed step. 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.

 

That is not the system we have today. Currently patients have to wait an average of 17 days between the request for treatment and when they receive their first prescription from the hub in Chittenden County. We should take advantage of every opportunity – every moment when someone is ready for treatment to start their medication - rather than telling them to wait until Monday, or to wait until next week, or the week after that, knowing that to stave off withdrawal, that patient will likely use illicit drugs multiple times, maybe even dozens of times, before treatment becomes available, and the opportunity for a better path will be gone.

 

This approach is guided by the emerging, hopeful body of evidence that rapid access to these medications saves lives. For example, a randomized study in Connecticut found twice the rate of success in treatment when overdose patients were offered buprenorphine right in the Emergency Room. To apply this evidence in Burlington, we’re working with experts at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and elsewhere.  

 

One longtime staff member of Safe Recovery, our syringe exchange, told me that in more than a decade on the job, she has seen so many moments of interest in treatment appear, only to slip away for good.

 

No more. Our goal for the year ahead – which we are pursuing with partners at the UVM Medical Center and the Howard Center – will be to improve rapid access to medication in order to start effective care at the right place and at the right moment to save lives.

 

I want to thank the Burlington Police Department and Burlington Fire Department and their chiefs for leading the way and taking on new roles and responsibilities in response to this crisis while at the same time continuing to meet the public’s very high expectations in all other areas of public safety.

 

In 2018 we will bring this same focus on innovation and results to grow the new Burlington Early Learning Initiative. While we had conducted extensive research when you, the 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.

 

Nine months after the program was created, it is starting to make an impact on the ground. Together last week we made our first grant to a center that will create four much-needed, new Burlington infant and toddler child care slots. 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.

 

Also in 2018, we will continue to work towards becoming a net zero energy city, with continued focus on the district energy project. This project represents perhaps the single biggest emission reduction action we can take as a community. Burlington Electric has been leading a unique partnership that would move the project to the advanced engineering and design phase and put us in position to resolve the feasibility of the effort by the end of the calendar year. I also appreciate very much the support of our Chittenden County legislators in successfully moving forward legislation that would allow Burlington Electric to access over $1 million in thermal energy incentives to apply to district energy, taking the project one step closer to reality last week.

 

While the City pursues this and other critical work, we must continue to communicate and engage the public fully. We excel at public engagement as a community in many ways – and we can do even better. 

 

Over the next year, we will complete three important improvements. 

 

First, we will complete and bring to Council for approval the City’s first Language Access Plan. Our City is growing and welcoming English-language learners into our neighborhoods every day, and we must be thoughtful and consistent in how we address language barriers that impact city services.

 

Second, we will bring to the Council for discussion and approval a new public engagement handbook to guide our efforts to forward and improve City initiatives.  

 

Finally, as proposed by others in the recent campaigns and consistent with a resolution that Councilor Karen Paul has proposed to the administration, we will work to review the role and responsibilities of the Neighborhood Planning Assemblies, and how the processes by which City Departments work with the NPAs and other stakeholders in our community can be improved.

 

These 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.  Growing, dynamic, evolving cities have room and opportunities for people of all backgrounds, incomes, and ages.  Compact, dense, walkable, and bikeable cities are also the most sustainable communities, as residents consume far less energy heating and cooling their homes and workplaces, and drive far less than their suburban and rural contemporaries.  

 

In contrast, communities that put up regulatory walls to stop change lock in some of their physical character, but they lose their community’s soul in the bargain. Young households and the middle class are pushed out by rising demand, and older, wealthier households, while low income households, refugees, and others seeking opportunity are blocked from ever getting in the door. 

 

This is the future we were headed towards six years ago. We had created only a couple hundred downtown homes over the prior decade despite mounting demand. Younger households were being forced out of the downtown in that period as the average Burlington rent climbed to 44 percent of median income. 

 

Over the last six years, the Council and the voters have repeatedly taken action to open up new opportunities with our downtown development policies and we are now on a different trajectory. Since 2013, more than 1,200 downtown homes have been built or are in the construction pipeline. This effort is starting to work – vacancy rates are edging upwards, and landlords are reporting new price and quality pressure as they seek tenants, and this is happening even before the first of the major new downtown projects opens at Champlain College’s 194 St. Paul Street this fall.

 

This work, however, is not done. 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. Young couples told me they were on the verge of moving out of the City or even out of State for rent relief. Retirees described years of frustrated searches for downtown apartments near their grandchildren. Students turned out in very high numbers this Town Meeting Day in large part because they are demanding better living conditions.

 

In short, we have more to do to work our way out of the affordable housing crisis. On March 6, after much debate, the City voted to keep moving forward with this work. 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.

 

Thank you all for being part of this important annual tradition. I am excited and eager to take on the challenges of the next year together. Let’s get back to work and let’s have a great 2018!

 

 

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Press Release Date: 
04/02/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 27, 2018
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

Mayor Weinberger Statement in Response to City Council Resolution Requesting Secretary of Air Force Provide an Alternative Mission for Vermont Air National Guard
 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today released the following statement in response to the City Council resolution passed on March 26, 2018 requesting the Secretary of the Air Force provide an alternative mission for the Vermont Air National Guard at the Burlington International Airport:

 

“The decision now fully before me as a result of last night’s City Council vote is potentially consequential for the people of Burlington, the Burlington International Airport, the region, and the Vermont Air National Guard.  I welcome that the Council made clear last night that it does not support the cancellation of the F-35 basing in Burlington and voted down an amendment to request the cancellation, which I would not have supported.  Pursuant to the City Charter, I have until the April 16 City Council meeting to decide what action I will take on the resolution, and I will use that time as needed to continue the further work on this issue that I promised, and to make this decision with care.”

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Press Release Date: 
03/27/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 14, 2018
Contact:  Brian Lowe
                  802.735.3983

 

Mayor Weinberger’s Statement Supporting National School Walkout Day
 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today released the following statement in support of National School Walkout Day: 

 

“Our children are doing something remarkable. Students in Burlington, in towns throughout Vermont, and across the entire country, are organizing the most effective gun violence reform effort in the United States in a generation. I applaud the leadership and activism of the students at Burlington High School, and elsewhere in Vermont, who have thoughtfully participated in National School Walkout Day and made their voices heard in Montpelier.  Already, through their forceful arguments, these students have accomplished more in a few short weeks to move Vermont towards safer gun policies than has been achieved in decades. 

 

“As elected leaders, one of our most fundamental responsibilities is to enact and support policies that protect our children and provide safe environments for them to learn and grow. Our kids are right that we are failing as a country and state to meet this most basic responsibility. I am proud of the actions of Burlington students during their walkout today, and I will be in Montpelier tomorrow and in the weeks ahead attempting to amplify their message – we cannot miss the opportunity to make Vermont safer this legislative session.”
 

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Press Release Date: 
03/19/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 1, 2018
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

Mayor Weinberger Statement Supporting Vermont Senate’s Passage of Background Check Legislation
 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today released the following statement in support of the Vermont Senate’s passage of legislation that will require background checks on virtually all gun sales in Vermont. The legislation passed as an amendment to S.55:

 

“Today’s vote by the Vermont Senate to approve background checks is a long-overdue moment of progress in the struggle to reduce gun violence.  My thoughts today are with the 20 six- and seven-year-olds and seven adults who were gunned down in Newtown in 2012, as well as the 17 students and adults murdered in Parkland, and with the thousands of Vermonters who have worked for years for today’s action.  This vote shows definitively that Vermont is now ready to take serious steps to stop the epidemic of gun violence.  Much more will be needed to truly protect our children from future massacres.  As a first step, I urge the Vermont House to quickly make this bill law in Vermont.”

 

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Press Release Date: 
03/01/2018
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

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