FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 21, 2017
Contact:  Todd Rawlings, CEDO, 802-652-4309

   Brian Lowe, Mayor’s Office, 802-735-3983

 

Mayor Weinberger, City Leaders Announce 2018 Burlington Housing Trust Fund Awards
City to Provide $310,455 in Projects and Capacity Funding to Support Affordable Housing in Burlington in FY18

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger, City Councilor Adam Roof, and Community and Economic Development Office Director Noelle MacKay and community leaders today announced the recipients of the 2018 Burlington Housing Trust Fund (BHTF) grant awards. Councilor Roof and Director MacKay are members of the BHTF Administrative Committee that makes the awards. This year, the fund provided $310,455 in projects and capacity funds to projects that will help create or preserve over 70 affordable homes in Burlington through Cathedral Square and the North Avenue Co-op and will support capacity at Champlain Housing Trust, COTS, Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity, and HomeShare Vermont.

 

“The City doubled its annual contribution to the Housing Trust Fund in 2015 without increasing taxes because the Administration and City Council believe that all residents deserve safe, high-quality housing and this is a powerful tool to help increase the number of permanently affordable homes,” said Mayor Weinberger. “We have worked hard over the past six years with partners like Champlain Housing Trust, COTS, and Cathedral Square to expand options for all Burlingtonians, including at the North Avenue Coop, the Bright Street Coop, as well as the new City Place Burlington, low barrier warming shelter, and Cambrian Rise projects. I commend the applicants and awardees, and look forward to our continued partnership addressing Burlington’s housing needs.”

 

"I feel particularly good about the Housing Trust Fund allocations this year,” said Councilor Adam Roof (Ward 8). “Important projects and mission-driven organizations are being supported and the community at large is getting a win. The HTF is critical to the City's comprehensive mission of creating and preserving affordable housing for those who earn a low and moderate income."

 

“We already have an inquiry list of seniors interested in Juniper House, where we will offer ‘Support and Services at Home’, which assists older adults in aging safely at home,” said Cindy Reid, Director of Development at Cathedral Square. “There is a significant need for affordable housing for our growing senior population. We appreciate the City’s critical support to help us build Juniper House.”

 

“Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity appreciates the partnership with Burlington Housing Trust Fund, which has helped us to build more perpetually affordable homes in Burlington over the past 33 years for low-income working families who live in substandard rental housing,” said Catherine Stevens, Advancement Director for Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity. “As an independent 501c3, we must raise all the funding locally in order to purchase building lots and build homes, and we look forward to building more homes in Burlington and all of Chittenden County with a continued partnership with the City.”

 

“CEDO is proud to administer a program that provides hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to support the retention and creation of new, affordable homes for some of our most vulnerable residents. We appreciate the support of the Mayor, the City Council, and our partners like Cathedral Square, COTS, CHT, and others in creating dozens of new units just in the last two years with the opening of new housing on North Ave and Bright St.”

 

Project awardees are:

 

  • Cathedral Square’s Juniper House: Awarded $188,174 to support the creation of 70 affordable housing units for seniors in the Juniper House development, part of the Cambrian Rise project on North Avenue.

 

  • North Avenue Co-Op (NAC) Water and Sewer System Design: Awarded $45,000 to design and build a new water and wastewater distribution system and road network for the NAC, an important source of affordable housing in Burlington that contains home-sites for up to 117 very low, low, and moderate income families.

 

Capacity awardees are:

 

  • Champlain Housing Trust: Awarded $44,781 to support staffing of operations, public education, outreach, fundraising, and engagement of public officials to ensure people in Burlington and across the region understand the need for more affordable housing, which helps incentivize projects and attract and secure resources to build affordable housing.

 

  • Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) Housing Resource Center: Awarded $7,500 support staffing resources, supervision, and overall organization operations to provide homeless prevention and re-housing programming to 400 households annually (approximately 900 people) who are at risk of becoming homeless or who need assistance getting housing.

 

  • Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) Waystation: Awarded $7,500 to pay for the day-to-day expenses of operating the Waystation and providing services to stabilize approximately 220 homeless adults.

 

  • Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity: Awarded $10,000 to hire an additional construction supervisor to supervise and administer home rehabs in Burlington, working with the CEDO office to review requests from low-income homeowners.

 

  • HomeShare Vermont: Awarded $7,500 to pay for outreach and marketing to encourage more people to share their homes with those looking for an affordable place to live.

 

Burlington Housing Trust Fund

The Housing Trust Fund award are allocated annually through a competitive process in which nonprofit corporations, municipal corporations, limited equity housing cooperatives, for-profit corporations, partnerships and individuals are invited to submit proposals for either the expansion or support of affordable housing. All projects must serve households having an income not exceeding 100 percent of median income, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and preference is given to proposals serving households having an income not exceeding 50 percent of median income. Priority for funding is given to perpetually affordable housing projects. 

 

Proposals were evaluated by an Administrative Committee composed of CEDO Director Noelle MacKay, Ward 8 City Councilor Adam Roof (Chair of the City Council’s Community Development and Neighborhood Revitalization Committee), and Mayoral Communications & Projects Coordinator Katie Vane. This year, the Administrative Committee used a new application scoring system weighing the strengths of each application before a final meeting to vote on the awardees on December 4, 2017.

 

Burlington’s City Council approved the Housing Trust Fund Ordinance in 1988 to assist the City’s nonprofit housing organizations in building more affordable housing, and the Housing Trust Fund made its first disbursement in November of 1989. The BHTF provides grants and loans for the promotion, retention and creation of long-term affordable housing for very low, low and moderate-income households. The BHTF project grants go to projects that create new affordable housing units, while capacity grants are supporting the staffing, training, planning, fundraising, and ongoing operations of nonprofit organizations that are creating or preserving housing for very low, low, and moderate-income households.

 

More information may be found on CEDO’s website at https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/CEDO/Housing-Trust-Fund-0.

 

 

# # #

Press Release Date: 
12/22/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 20, 2017
Contact:  Diana Wood, Parks, Recreation & Waterfront, 802-865-7089

    Katie Vane, Mayor’s Office, 802-734-0617

 

Mayor Weinberger Reopens the Entire Northern Bike Path
Includes 3 Miles of Rehabilitated Bike Path, Improved Stormwater Infrastructure, Street Crossings, and New Neighborhood Access Points

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger, accompanied by City officials and community leaders, officially reopened the entire northern section of the Burlington Bike Path at Leddy Park this morning. Over three miles of the beloved Bike Path, from North Beach to the Winooski River Bridge, underwent major rehabilitation during the 2017 construction season. The entire Bike Path is now open for winter use. Because of the new pavement in the northern section of the Burlington Bike Path, this winter, for the first time, the Department of Parks, Recreation & Waterfront has updated its plowing policy and will be plowing the northern sections.

 

“Future generations of Burlingtonians will look back at these years as an era of major public investment – as a time when the City Council, the Administration, and the public worked together to dramatically improve and expand our park system, our core infrastructure, and our public spaces,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger.  “This ambitious Bike Path rehabilitation represents the largest capital project our Parks Department has undertaken, and completes the long-desired restoration and improvements to the Bike Path in the New North End. I am proud to see the quality of the work, attention to detail, and careful consideration of ecology and accessibility that has been incorporated into the design and construction to dramatically improve this great community asset.”

 

The rehabilitation of this three-mile stretch of the Bike Path was completed in two phases and cost a total of $2.6 million. The northernmost segment, from Shore Road to the Winooski River, was completed in October and fully opened to the public. The busier southern segment, just North of North Beach overpass, to Shore Road, was closed during the late fall/early winter to minimize impact on users. The Department of Parks, Recreation & Waterfront (DPRW) managed the design and construction of the project beginning in December 2016, and was supported by a team of consultants throughout the process. The stability and continuity of this team, many of whom worked together on last year’s Bike Path rehabilitation in the Urban Reserve, built deep project knowledge and allowed DPRW to manage the project aggressively to maximize quality and efficiency.

 

“The push to rehabilitate began with the vision laid out by the Bike Path Task Force and our Path Improvement Feasibility Study of 2012,” said John Bossange, DPRW Commissioner and Parks Foundation Chair. “This ambitious goal was wholeheartedly embraced by a newly elected Mayor Miro Weinberger and expertly stewarded by a rejuvenated parks department. The Parks Foundation is very proud to have the Burlington Greenway project as our signature work, and look forward to continuing our support for the construction of additional pause places, like the beautiful spot that is designed for Leddy, and tackling the southern sections of the path from Perkins to the city boundary at Queen City Park.”

 

“As a Ward 4 elected official, a long-time resident of the New North End, and a member of the original Bike Path Task Force, I am keenly aware of how much the Bike Path means to my constituents, and the thousands of Burlingtonians and international visitors who enjoy it,” said Kurt Wright, Ward 4 City Councilor and Bike Path Task Force member. “Thank you Mayor Weinberger for his leadership, Burlington Parks Recreation & Waterfront and Director Cindi Wight for their coordination and prioritization of this project, and Parks Foundation and Chair John Bossange for their strategic alliance and successful fundraising campaign that made this project possible.”

 

“Today, as the result of the hard work of the City, the support of our local business community and the generosity of many, our community gets to celebrate yet another upgrade to our beloved Bike Path,” said Burlington Business Association Executive Director Kelly Devine. “It is both an internationally known recreational amenity and a key to what makes Burlington an amazing city. I want to thank Mayor Weinberger, Councilor Wright, DPW Director Spencer, John Bossange, former Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Director Jesse Bridges, and the people of Burlington for their unwavering commitment to improving our bike path over the past six years.”

 

“I came into this midstream,” said DPRW Director Cindi Wight, who took over as Director in October after serving as Superintendent of Parks & Recreation in Rutland. “I have really enjoyed my involvement in this project and am looking forward to pushing on to the southern segments. I am an avid biker and a resident of the New North End, and am pleased to be able to re-open the path, what we now refer to as to as the Burlington Greenway, and present it to everyone in Burlington and beyond. This path does so much more than take you from point A to point B; it connects many of our beloved parks, provides access to people of all ages and abilities, provides pause places with bike racks, exercise equipment and places to relax, enjoy the view, access the beach and lake, it connects with neighborhoods and exciting commercial districts, and it is a linear park itself!”

 

Northern Bike Path Rehabilitation

Work on the northern portion of the Bike Path has constituted Phase 2 of the Bike Path rehabilitation, with Phase 1, from Perkins Pier to North Beach, completed in summer 2017. Phase 2 is the longest stretch yet completed, with just over three miles of full reconstruction from just north of North Beach overpass to the intersection of North Avenue Extension, and additional paving from North Avenue Extension to the Winooski River Bridge. Including Phase 1, the reconstructed Bike Path now runs from Perkins Pier to the Winooski River.

  

In addition to upgrading the paved path to the new wider standards of “2-11-2,” including 2’ aggregate shoulder, 11’ of asphalt paving and another 2’ aggregate shoulder, the project also included major improvements to stormwater and drainage, street crossings, and all neighborhood access points. This overhaul will greatly improve the life of the path and users will enjoy the improvements. The path is heavily used by commuters and recreationalists. Last year (from September 2016-September 2017) DPRW estimated over five hundred thousand users took advantage of the Bike Path. 

 

Some other highlights include:

  • Restoring long-lost railroad era culverts from the 19th century
  • Enhancing landscaping and stormwater management features that protect Lake Champlain
  • Working with neighbors and land owners to renegotiate right of way access that allowed for the new wider standards to go all the way northward
  • Addressing environmental issues such as wetland buffers, completing critical/endangered plant species inventory, and bat habitat preservation

 

Future work on the Burlington Bike Path

Next spring, crews will complete the top coat of asphalt on Phase 2b, paint the lines and finish any last touches of landscaping. Next summer plans include the creation of new Pause Places at Leddy Park and North Shore, which include additional fitness equipment as part of the UVM Medical Center Fitness Trail. The North Beach – Shore Road segment will close for a short window in May 2018 to allow contractors to put the finishing touches on the multi-use path in time for the Vermont City Marathon on May 29

 

Designs for Phase 3 (from Perkins Pier through Oakledge Park) will be developed in 2018 and construction for a large portion of that project will take place in the 2019 construction season.

  

For complete details about the project go to https://enjoyburlington.com/burlington-greenway-phase-2/

 

Sign up for the special Bike Path email list to be notified of project updates.

 

 

# # #

Press Release Date: 
12/20/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 19, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

Mayor Weinberger Statement on Settlement with ACLU of Vermont

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger released the following statement today regarding the City of Burlington’s settlement with the ACLU of Vermont.

 

The City is committed to all residents having the safe and high quality housing they deserve. 184 Church Street has fallen far short of this standard for years, and has been the ongoing focus of Code Enforcement action as a result.

 

“In this unusual instance, the landlord chose to start eviction proceedings rather than address the problems raised by the City. This was not the outcome the City was seeking. To prevent something like this from happening again, and to bolster our historically strong tenant protection policies, the City is working with the ACLU of Vermont to improve our tenant notification procedures.”  

 

# # #

Press Release Date: 
12/19/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 14, 2017
Contact:  Gillian Nanton, CEDO, 802-865-7179

                 Diana Colangelo, CEDO, 617-447-7905
                 Katie Vane, Mayor’s Office, 802-734-0617

 

Mayor Weinberger Announces Winners of First Mayor’s Prize to Support Entrepreneurship
In Partnership with Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, City Awards $200,000 in First Year of Two-Year Competition

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Weinberger today announced the winners of the first Mayor’s Prize for Entrepreneurship, launched in early October to increase support for entrepreneurs in the City of Burlington. Collectively, the winning organizations provide a broad range of support services and work with a diverse mix of entrepreneurs. The top four prize winners are:

 

  • The Center for Women and Enterprise: Awarded $55,000 to launch a new initiative, Power Forward, an accelerator program to support high growth women-owned firms across all sectors.

 

  • BTV Ignite: Awarded $50,000 to fund a new initiative, BTV Ignite Growth Acceleration Program, that will focus on providing high-quality independent specialized advisory and development support to “growth stage” companies with a digital or technology focus.

 

  • Vermont Law School: Awarded $50,000 to help fund a program that provides free or low-cost legal services to startup and emerging companies in Burlington, with a focus on sustainable or green businesses striving to reach a “triple bottom line” related to social, environmental and financial outcomes.

 

  • Women’s Small Business Program: Awarded $45,000 to expand their existing program to better support and engage their alumni network, strengthen their entrepreneurial team to enhance support to entrepreneurs and allow for new, innovative programs.

 

“I am proud to announce the winners of the first-ever Mayor’s Prize for Entrepreneurship to four diverse organizations that will help local entrepreneurs succeed and make Burlington their home,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger.  “I am particularly excited that two of the groups support women-owned businesses. Creating more women-owned businesses is critical for achieving gender pay equity and is a huge economic development opportunity for Vermont.”
 

As noted in the 2016 Change the Story Status Report, women-owned businesses generate 9 percent of gross revenues and employ 12 percent of workers in privately-held Vermont firms. If women were to choose business ownership at the same rate as men, it would result in more than 10,500 new businesses.

 

“CEDO was delighted to partner with the Kauffman Foundation on the Mayor’s Prize,” said Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) Director Noelle MacKay. “These grant funds provide support to Burlington’s entrepreneurs and will help them up their game and spur even greater innovation and economic activity.”

 

The Mayor’s Prize was a competitive process where entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) that serve Burlington entrepreneurs were invited to submit proposals for either the expansion of a successful program or to support the creation of a new, innovative program that addresses the needs of entrepreneurs. Proposals were evaluated by a Judging Committee comprised of seven people with expertise in various entrepreneurship-related fields and drawn from local and national organizations.  Judging Committee members were:

 

  • Justin Wicks, Chief Financial Officer, VENTURE.co (Burlington, VT)
  • Dr. JaNay Queen Nazaire, Managing Director for Performance and Results, Living Cities, (Washington, D.C.)
  • Greg Huysman, Senior Business Development Manager, Opportunities Credit Union, (Winooski, VT)
  • Dr. Elizabeth Mack, Assistant Professor, Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
  • Paul J. Corson, Director of Entrepreneurship, University of Utah, (Park City, UT)
  • Brooke Gillman, Managing Director, Marketing and Communication, eSecLending (Burlington, VT)
  • Gillian Nanton, Assistant Director, Sustainability, Housing & Economic Development, Community and Economic Development Office (Burlington, VT)

 

Mayor’s Prize Award

The Mayor’s Prize will award at least $100,000 to entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) next fall in a second funding round. The goal of the Mayor’s Prize is to foster the growth and development of entrepreneurship in the city and encourage outside-the-box thinking about how best to achieve this. The Mayor’s Prize is entirely funded by a grant from the Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which has also supported the Let’s Talk Progress speaker series.

 

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private foundation established in the mid-1960s by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, and is based in Kansas City, MO.  The Foundation works in the areas of entrepreneurship and education.  In 2015, the City of Burlington was chosen as one of two cities for the Kauffman Foundation’s Metro Strategy initiative, a pilot project which sought to work cooperatively with two communities in the country to develop a strategy that would improve conditions for entrepreneurial growth in those communities and bring up to $500,000 in programmatic grant-making. As part of this initiative, Kauffman Program Officers visited Burlington several times over the ensuing months and conducted a landscape analysis of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

 

Based on this analysis, the “Let’s Talk Progress” speaker series was launched by the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce with funding from Kauffman in June 2017, and the Foundation worked with CEDO on a strategy for disbursing the remainder of the grant funds in a transparent, competitive, and equitable manner, which resulted in the Mayor’s Prize. This competition is based on a similar model in Albuquerque.  

 

More information may be found on CEDO’s website at www.burlingtonvt.gov/CEDO

 

 

# # #

Press Release Date: 
12/14/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 8, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                802.734.0617

 

Mayor Weinberger Statement On Burlington’s Response to Department of Justice’s “Sanctuary City” Letter

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger released the following statement today regarding the City of Burlington’s response to the Department of Justice’s letter asserting that Burlington’s Fair and Impartial Policing Policy may violate 8 U.S.C. § 1373, a section of federal law addressing immigration status information.

 

“We are a welcoming and a law-abiding City that draws strength from its diversity and celebrates the progress our nation has made to become more welcoming and inclusive to all,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “We have a responsibility to uphold and advance further that progress. Contrary to the opinions asserted in the Department of Justice letter, we believe the Burlington Police Department is in compliance with 8 U.S.C. § 1373, and we continue to believe that federal law does not require us to implement the President’s misguided civil immigration policies. We have made that case forcefully in the letter we returned to the Department of Justice today.”

  

* Please see the City of Burlington’s response to the Department of Justice letter

 

Press Release Date: 
12/08/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 8, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

Mayor Weinberger Highlights Progress on City’s Quality of Life Initiatives, Invites Community Input on Next Steps
Encourages Participation in Upcoming Neighborhood Project Interactive Community Open House

 

 

Burlington, VT – Today Mayor Miro Weinberger encouraged residents to attend an upcoming Neighborhood Project Interactive Community Open House on December 12 and highlighted the City of Burlington’s progress on longstanding noise complaint, landlord accountability, intoxication and disorderly conduct, and other quality of life issues. The City will be hosting the Neighborhood Project Open House in collaboration with the University of Vermont (UVM), Champlain College, and Preservation Burlington from 3:00 to 7:00pm on December 12 in Contois Auditorium to enable resident feedback on the City’s continued work in near-campus neighborhoods. The overarching goal of Neighborhood Project is to build on recent successes and develop with community input an actionable strategy and toolkit of policies and programs for neighborhood stabilization in historic neighborhoods. The Open House will allow experts selected by UVM, Champlain, Preservation Burlington, and the City to share their findings with the public and the public to weigh in on potential new tools and strategies that could help improve residents’ quality of life, as well as to suggest different ideas.

 

“Thanks to the hard work of our partners, impressive student leadership, and strong resident voices, we have made real progress and have seen a dramatic reduction in calls for service for quality of life issues by 42 percent over the last four years in the area having more than 25 percent student residents,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “We have more work to do, and I am eager to hear residents’ thoughts about the new ideas that come from the expert review of national best practices to see what additional steps we can take to make our historic neighborhoods even better places to live.”

 

Neighborhood Project enters next phase
The Neighborhood Project is one of 22 proposals contained in Burlington's Housing Action Plan (HAP), adopted by the City Council in October 2015. The HAP called for hiring consultants to create a Neighborhood Stabilization Program known as The Neighborhood Project (TNP), an overall strategy and toolkit of policies and programs to improve quality of life in near-campus neighborhoods.  TNP is a partnership between the City, UVM, Champlain College and Preservation Burlington.

 

On Tuesday, December 12 from 3:00 – 7:00pm in Contois Auditorium, the experts selected by the partnership will present their findings to the public, and the public will have an opportunity to provide feedback on actions to enhance quality of life initiatives, including measures to slow down conversion of single family homes to rentals, actions to convert selected, primarily student rental properties to non-student housing while maintaining affordability, and to suggest additional strategies and projects that might continue to improve Burlingtonians’ quality of life in years to come. Community input on these ideas will be crucial in shaping the City’s outlook regarding the implementation of any of these approaches.

 

The Interactive Community Open House will invite community feedback on initiatives including:

  • Enhancing quality of life initiatives, such as (i) building on current renter education programs (ii) clarifying, simplifying and communicating the City’s existing qualify of life tools and (iii) reviewing ‘fair warning’ policies.
  • Containing and slowing down conversion of single family homes to rentals, with actions such as (i) more student housing on or adjacent to campuses (ii) creation of a property acquisition fund to acquire single homes that have not yet become student rentals and (iii) instituting an employer assisted housing program.
  • Converting selected primarily student rental properties to non-student housing while maintaining affordability. Actions will include creating a targeted rehab loan program and targeting program funds for rehabbing historic properties.

Steady progress over time

TNP seeks to build on some recent successes detailed below. Over the past five years, the City of Burlington has worked with UVM, Champlain College, student leaders, the Burlington Police Department, and Code Enforcement to promote safety and quality of life in near-campus neighborhoods. These efforts have taken a variety of forms, and in combination have resulted in substantial reductions in noise complaints, greater landlord accountability, and the growing usage of SeeClickFix as a tool for residents to identify quality of life problems and have them quickly addressed. The community Open House on December 12 will help the City get feedback on new ideas and additional areas for work.

 

  • Reducing Noise Complaints: The introduction of noise patrols staffed by Burlington Police officers and supported by a financial contribution from the University of Vermont has contributed to the steady reduction of noise complaints from a high in 2012. Between the 2012/2013 academic year and the 2016/2017 academic year, calls for service including noise, intoxication, and disorderly conduct, fell by 42 percent. Officer allocation is driven in part by data collected and analyzed collaboratively by UVM, the Burlington Police, and Code Enforcement.

 

  • Enhancing the City’s Code Enforcement effort: The City has also made a number of changes to its overall Code Enforcement policies and allocation of resources to improve services to homeowners, renters, and landlords. These changes include:

 

  • Improving practices and management to ensure that all Burlington rental units are inspected within the timeline required by the ordinance.
  • Amending the ordinance to allow Code Enforcement to focus its efforts on problematic properties by giving Code Enforcement the discretion to inspect well-maintained properties less frequently and poorly maintained rental units more often. Properties with major problems are inspected again in a year, rather than the traditional three years, to make sure issues addressed as part of the inspection do not crop up again.
  • Creating a tiered fine system so that problematic properties and renters will face escalating charges.
  • Identifying landlords with chronically problematic properties and engaging these individuals directly with sustained attention from Code Enforcement and the BPD (and having the Mayor, Police Chief, and City Councilors, make direct calls to the property owner to signal the City’s focus).

 

  • Enabling residents to “SeeClickFix”: Since the City launched its use of the “SeeClickFix” app in 2012, Mayor Weinberger and Code Enforcement Director Bill Ward have encouraged Burlingtonians to use the app to report quality of life issues such as potholes, graffiti, found syringes, or excess trash on the sidewalk using their mobile phones or computers. Burlington has consistently ranked in the top 50 out of the 500 cities that use the service. The City has 1,035, registered users who over five years have reported 9,351 issues. In 2017, users reported 2,801 issues, of which 2,401 have been closed. Issues are acknowledged within an average of 1.2 days and resolved within an average of 14.6 days.

 

 

* Please see more information on the Neighborhood Project and Open House here

 

 

# # #

Press Release Date: 
12/08/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

December 6, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617
                              

City of Burlington Releases Final Schurz Communications Letter of Intent

Outlines Next Steps in Burlington Telecom Sale Process
 

Burlington, VT – The City of Burlington today released the final Schurz Communications Letter of Intent (LOI), following the City Council’s approval of the conceptual LOI at its last meeting on November 27, 2017. The non-binding LOI will be discussed at the City Council’s next meeting on December 11, 2017, and Council’s vote on the definitive documents that memorialize the commitments in the LOI is expected on December 18, 2017.

 

With the completion of the LOI, the City has begun working with Schurz Communications on the definitive asset purchase agreement, the legal agreement which will detail and ultimately supersede the LOI. The asset purchase agreement is expected to come before City Council for approval in substance on December 18 and to be signed no later than December 31, 2017. A petition for approval of the transaction by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is expected to be filed within 30 days of signing. The PUC approval timeframe is less predictable, but is anticipated to occur in mid-2018. During that time, the City of Burlington will continue to operate BT, and business will continue as usual without interruption. The sale of BT to Schurz is expected to close within 30 days following the PUC’s regulatory approval.

 

“Over the last week, we have worked hard on behalf of Burlingtonians and Burlington Telecom employees to finalize the conceptual agreement approved at the November 27 City Council meeting,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “I appreciate Todd Schurz’s collaboration over the last week to not only formalize what was committed to the City Council, but also to strengthen even further the proposal’s emphasis on the issues of affordability, net neutrality, and community re-investment. We will move from the LOI to the final legal documents as quickly as possible and bring them to the Council for formal adoption as early as December 18, 2017. After an important and substantive community debate for many months, I hope that the City Council and the public will now come together to support this direction and help us successfully put Burlington Telecom on a stable, long-term footing, and resolve once and for all one of the largest financial challenges in the City’s history.”

 

Details of the proposal include:

 

  • A purchase price of $30.8 million
  • Agreement not to increase prices on broadband for 60 months
  • Agreement to an anti-monopoly future sales restriction
  • Granting the City of Burlington the right to roll over cash proceeds from the sale into a minority ownership interest in the new BT, and to add a local Board representative
  • A commitment to net neutrality and a maintaining BT’s historic privacy policy
  • Commitment to the full, rapid build-out of Burlington and likely neighboring communities
  • $300,000 a year of annual contributions for at least ten years to growing the local tech economy, digital divide initiatives, and other community investments

 

*Please see the Schurz Communications Final Letter of Intent.

# # #

Press Release Date: 
12/06/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

November 29, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617
                              

Moody’s Investors Service Upgrades Burlington’s Credit Rating to “A2”

Cites City's Improved Financial Position, Sound Reserves Following Four Consecutive Years of Operating Surpluses; Affirms Burlington Electric’s A3 Rating
 

Burlington, VT – Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the City of Burlington’s credit rating from A3 to A2 on Monday, November 27, 2017 (please see this Burlington ratings table ). In its Credit Report, Moody’s stated that “The management team, in place since 2012, remains committed to improving the city's financial position.”

 

“This is great news, and another sign of our growing financial and economic strength. Like the two other upgrades since 2014, this action by Moody’s will keep millions of dollars in the pockets of Burlington residents and improve our City and school district infrastructure in the years to come,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “I am grateful for the partnership of the City Council in this progress, and for the work of the entire City team, including our Department Heads, who have continued to improve our public services while controlling expenses, and our Clerk-Treasurer’s staff for all they have done to turn around the City’s finances.”
 

Additional highlights from the Moody's report include:
 

  • “The management team, in place since 2012, remains committed to improving the city's financial position. The city adopted a fund balance policy in 2015 with which it reached compliance well ahead of schedule. In fiscal 2016, the city eliminated the material weaknesses found in prior audits. In addition, the city is adhering to a recently adopted ten- year capital plan that will address deferred maintenance.”
    “The city remains committed to improving its financial position and has generated four consecutive surpluses (audited 2013-2016). Management adheres to the fund balance policy adopted by the Council in 2015 which targets an unassigned fund balance of 10-15%. The city achieved its fund balance policy goal in fiscal 2016, well ahead of schedule.”
  • “The upgrade to A2 reflects the city's improved financial position with sound reserves following four consecutive years of operating surpluses, as well as the city’s strength as the economic center of Vermont (Aaa stable). The rating also incorporates rising fixed costs in the face of a somewhat challenging revenue raising environment, significant pension liabilities and ongoing enterprise risk associated with Burlington Telecom (BT).”

 

Future actions that could lead to another rating upgrade include:
 

  • Continued surplus operations and material growth in reserves and liquidity
  • Final resolution of BT sale

City Council vote takes next step toward resolving Burlington Telecom (BT) sale impact on ratings
 

The Moody’s report was issued Monday afternoon prior to the City Council’s Burlington Telecom vote earlier this week.  Moody’s notes in its report that credit challenges could arise from “Continued delays in the sale of Burlington Telecom,” and that factors that could lead to a downgrade include “Retention of significant contingent liabilities resulting from sale of Burlington Telecom.” Moody’s stated that “We will monitor the sale process and any contingent liability that may arise.”
 

The City Council’s vote to approve a new offer led by Schurz Communications valued at $30.8 million puts the City on a clear path towards resolving these credit challenges. The Mayor is now working with Schurz to negotiate in writing what the company verbally committed to at the November 27 City Council meeting, and to ensure the sale process concludes within the timeframe dictated by the 2014 Citibank settlement agreement.

 

Moody’s affirms Burlington Electric Department’s A3 credit rating
 

In a separate ratings report, Moody’s affirmed Burlington Electric’s A3 rating, citing a number of credit strengths, including:

 

  • “Strong and focused management working on industry transition, including ensuring utility fixed cost recovery through rate structure”; and
  • “Diverse and substantially renewable power supply resource mix, which mitigates industry challenges such as market price disruptions and carbon regulation.”

 

Burlington Electric General Manager Neale Lunderville stated: “Achieving a Moody’s A3 rating is a testament to the hard work of our great team – starting with our customers and extending to our Burlington Electric frontline staff and to City Hall. I offer special praise to our BED power supply and finance teams, as well as to our Burlington Electric Commission, for their steady focus on improving our finances, and to the entire Burlington Electric family for delivering exceptional service to our customers. As the Moody’s rating confirms, our continuous focus on strong financial management and on adapting to a changing energy market allow our team to lead on energy innovation.”

 

 

Global Long-Term Rating Scale
Rating Symbols and Definitions

Aaa

Obligations rated Aaa are judged to be of the highest quality, subject to the lowest level of credit risk.

Aa

Obligations rated Aa are judged to be of high quality and are subject to very low credit risk.

A

Obligations rated A are judged to be upper-medium grade and are subject to low credit risk.

Baa

Obligations rated Baa are judged to be medium-grade and subject to moderate credit risk and as such may possess certain speculative characteristics.

Ba

Obligations rated Ba are judged to be speculative and are subject to substantial credit risk.

B

Obligations rated B are considered speculative and are subject to high credit risk.

Caa

Obligations rated Caa are judged to be speculative of poor standing and are subject to very high credit risk.

Ca

Obligations rated Ca are highly speculative and are likely in, or very near, default, with some prospect of recovery of principal and interest.

C

Obligations rated C are the lowest rated and are typically in default, with little prospect for recovery of principal or interest.

Source: Moody’s Investors Service Rating Symbols and Definitions, February 2016, https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_79004
 

*Please see the City of Burlington and Burlington Electric Department Moody’s Credit Reports.
 

# # #

Press Release Date: 
11/29/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

November 28, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617
                              

Mayor Weinberger Statement on Last Night’s City Council Actions to Select Burlington Telecom Finalist
 

Burlington, VT – Today Mayor Miro Weinberger released the following statement regarding the City Council’s actions on November 28, 2017 to select a finalist in the Burlington Telecom sale.

 

“While I was as surprised as anyone by last night’s outcome, I am relieved that after weeks of uncertainty, the City Council has finally selected a winner that does not breach prior Council-approved Burlington Telecom agreements that would have exposed the City and taxpayers to another round of lawsuits.  With last night’s vote, we are now in a position to close the book on Burlington Telecom’s decade of financial challenges and achieve long-term benefits for BT customers, taxpayers and the City.

 

“I again thank the Keep Burlington Telecom Local leaders and committed volunteers for their unflagging engagement, which helped shape and improve the offers that came before the Council. I want to thank Ting for showing Burlington how transparent and responsive a company it is over the last few months. Most importantly, I thank our Burlington Telecom employees, who have made BT the growing, successful business it is today, and who have handled this challenging situation with great professionalism.

 

“In the coming days, I will be working hard on behalf of Burlingtonians and BT employees to negotiate in writing what Todd Schurz and Faisal Nisar verbally committed to at last night’s City Council meeting. I will ensure that the final agreement includes clear provisions regarding internet affordability, customer service, net neutrality, bridging the Digital Divide, and other items that reflect our community’s values. I look forward to finishing this important job for the people of Burlington in the months ahead.”

 

 

# # #

Press Release Date: 
11/28/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 16, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

Mayor Weinberger Announces Selection of Vermont Birth to Five to Manage Early Learning Initiative Grant Process; VB5 Seeking Grant Applications

 

Burlington, VT – Today Mayor Miro Weinberger announced that the City of Burlington concluded the Request for Proposal (RFP) process for a group to help manage the Early Learning Initiative grant process with the selection of Vermont Birth to Five (VB5). VB5 will manage the grant-making program in collaboration with the City’s Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO), and the program will enable Burlington-based child care providers to compete for City funding intended to increase the number of high-quality child care slots for infants and toddlers from birth to age three.

 

“The opening of the Early Learning Initiative grant process means we are one step closer to achieving our goal of becoming a city in which every child has an opportunity to succeed, regardless of the means of their parents,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “The City looks forward to selecting proposals that will begin the important work of expanding high-quality early care and learning options for children ages zero to three. By investing in our youngest children today, we will reap a better educated, healthier, and more just tomorrow. Thank you to Vermont Birth to Five for partnering with the City to lead this grant process.”

 

Vermont Birth to Five

An initiative of the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children, Vermont Birth to Five works to increase access to high-quality early care and learning statewide. VB5 will solicit and refine Burlington Early Learning Initiative grant applications and provide assessments to a Grant Committee that will ultimately make recommendations to the Mayor. VB5 has an expert staff focused on implementing early childhood education programs. The organization has dedicated a strong team to support this effort and has subsidized the cost of the work to help the City preserve funding for the grants to expand high-quality early care and learning slots in Burlington.

 

VB5 has published the details of the application process here: http://vermontbirthtofive.org/burlington-early-learning-initiative/. Information sessions for grant seekers will be held on November 27; VB5 staff are also available to answer questions. Letters of Intent will be due December 1. Full grant applications are due January 12, 2018.

 

Early Learning Initiative

In May 2017, Mayor Weinberger, Vermont Agency of Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe, City Councilor Dave Hartnett, and many other community leaders announced that the City of Burlington would be funding the Burlington Early Learning Initiative (ELI) focused on Burlington children from birth to age 3. Beginning in Fiscal Year 2018, the City will invest $500,000 annually in a capacity-building grants program for Burlington early care and learning programs that provide high-quality care to low income children and commit to increasing the number of slots available for children birth to three. The focus on expanding capacity was refined by the work of an Advisory Board of providers, health care professionals, advocates, residents, and City officials that met regularly in 2015 and 2016 to sort through many of the challenges to providing high-quality early care and learning programs in the City.

 

Burlington’s ELI is part of a growing national and state movement to expand investment in children before they enter kindergarten. New early childhood investment is a major priority of Governor Phil Scott, as it was for Governor Peter Shumlin, President Barack Obama, and mayors across the country. Features of Burlington’s ELI include:

  • The program will seek to address the fact that low-income Burlington children are disproportionately likely to be unready for school, experience a widening achievement gap as they age in the public school system, and are more likely to experience a range of negative outcomes later in life, including reduced educational achievements, higher rates of chronic health problems, higher rates of incarceration and drug misuse, and lower lifetime earnings.
  • The ELI will support the good work that many early care and learning programs are already doing by providing a stable funding source that can be drawn on to increase the total number of high-quality child care slots available within Burlington. The City’s research in prior years documented less than 200 slots available for children ages 0-3, with about 350 Burlington babies born every year.
  • The ELI will be rigorously evaluated over time. The program aspires to become a model for investments in early learning that result in measurable economic, health-related, social, and educational benefits that convince other funders to participate in affecting long-lasting changes.
  • In future years the City will attempt to leverage significant additional funding from other private, institutional, and public sources to provide scholarships for high quality early care to young children living in poverty to expand the impact and public returns of the ELI effort. A recent study released by the Vermont Business Roundtable found that every dollar invested to expand Vermont’s high-quality early care and learning programs will yield a return of $3.08 (view the full report here).
  • The long-term goal of the program is to ensure that all Burlington children have the opportunity to succeed regardless of family income level.

 

# # #

Press Release Date: 
11/16/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

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