City of Burlington, Vermont

City of Burlington, Vermont

City Hall, 149 Church Street, Burlington, VT 05401
Call Us 802-865-7000 M-F 8-4:30pm   Email Us

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 11, 2017
Contact:  Brian Lowe
                  802.735.3983

Mayor Miro Weinberger’s Statement on the Passing of Christian Kibabu

 

 

Burlington, VT –Mayor Miro Weinberger released the following statement regarding the tragic passing of Christian Kibabu, a Burlington High School student who drowned yesterday near Oakledge Park.

 

“It is with a heavy heart that I express my condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Christian Kibabu. Our City has lost a son, an athlete, a student, and a friend. He was 17 years old.”

 

“During the rescue attempt we witnessed our community bring all of its considerable resources to bear in an attempt to save Christian: divers, boats, a helicopter, fire and police personnel, even volunteers on paddleboards. So many times in the past, our efforts have averted tragedy. But, sadly not yesterday.”

 

“Any time a loss of life like this occurs, the men and women responsible for our community’s search and rescue programs evaluate their work to determine what, if anything, can be done to improve the chances of successful rescues going forward. Reviews like these are the essence of professional public safety operations. The fire and police departments, in coordination with their counterparts outside the City, will be conducting such an evaluation in the coming weeks.”

 

“Lake Champlain is one of Burlington’s most treasured resources, but it is not without its inherent hazards. The ever-changing conditions of our lake mean that no two swims will be the same, and we urge swimmers to exercise great caution in the water.”

 

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Press Release Date: 
07/24/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 8, 2017
Contact:  Jordan Redell
                  802.503.7664

Mayor Miro Weinberger Joins Former Mayor Frank Cain and Family in Celebrating Commemorative Overlook in Battery Park
Overlook Plaque Honors Mayor Cain’s Contributions to Burlington from 1965-1971

Burlington, VT –Today Mayor Miro Weinberger joined former Burlington mayor Frank Cain, members his family, and community members in unveiling a new “Frank Cain Overlook” at Battery Park. The overlook includes a plaque that dedicates the park to Frank Cain, honoring his service to Burlington as mayor from 1965-1971.

 

“Mayor Cain was a mayor of action who accomplished numerous enduring successes that we still benefit greatly from today,” said Mayor Weinberger.  “I am deeply appreciative for the support that Mayor Cain has given me over the past five years and it is an honor to recognize his distinguished service to Burlington with the dedication of the beautiful Frank Cain Overlook.”

 

“We have had a lifetime of stories from Dad about the development years of Burlington.  This tribute at such a beautiful location and coming from Mayor Weinberger means the world to our father and is something that he is deeply proud of,” said Brian Cain, the youngest of the ten children.

 

Mayor Cain was the first of the City’s “strong” mayors, taking office after a government charter reform added new authority to the position. Highlights of his six years in office included downtown economic development initiatives, the acquisition of Oakledge Park, and laying the groundwork for both the purchase of Leddy Park and the removal of oil tanks from the waterfront. These well-used recreation spaces are cherished by generations of residents.

 

With his wife, Mary Jane, Frank Cain raised ten children on Bilodeau Court. Battery Park was chosen as a site to honor Mayor Cain because of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s visit to the park when Frank Cain was mayor, a visit during which the President remarked that the view of the lake and sunset was “one of the two finest on earth.” Per the Council-approved naming process, the Parks Commission has formally voted to name the overlook “Frank Cain Overlook.”

 

The celebration took place at 3:30 pm, and included Frank and Mary Jane’s ten children, many grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

 

* Please see attached rendering of new overlook plaque and photos of the celebration.

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Mayor Frances Cain plaque.JPG

 

Mayors and their wives.JPG

 

Frank, Mary Jane, & 10 children.JPG

Press Release Date: 
07/08/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 5, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

Mayor Weinberger Statement Regarding Burlington Town Center Redevelopment Settlement Agreement

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger released the following statement today in response to Devonwood’s announcement that it has reached a settlement agreement with the appellants opposing the Burlington Town Center redevelopment project.

 

“The agreement between Devonwood and the appellants appears to be a great step forward for Burlington, removing the last major hurdle in this public-private redevelopment effort that will address so many of the City’s critical challenges by creating new jobs, new housing, and new municipal revenues. I look forward to working with the City Council to review this settlement agreement and complete the City’s final development agreement with Devonwood. I thank former mayor Peter Clavelle for his leadership and hard work on this issue, and thank and congratulate all parties for their success crafting this compromise.”

 

The City has participated in the legal challenges in support of the project and the permit issued by the Burlington Development Review Board.

 

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Press Release Date: 
07/05/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 29, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
               802.734.0617

 

Mayor Miro Weinberger, Federal Delegation and CEDO Representatives Announce $2.9 Million CEDO Burlington Lead Program Award
Funding to Make Homes Safer for Children, Support Hazard Assessments and Remediation in 162 Housing Units

 

Burlington, VT –Today Mayor Miro Weinberger, CEDO Director Noelle MacKay, and representatives of the federal delegation announced the Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) Burlington Lead Program will be awarded $2.9 million in program funding, one of only 28 Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control grant recipients in the nation. As part of the award, CEDO will also receive $400,000 in Healthy Homes grant funds that will leverage the Lead Program’s presence to reduce other housing-related health hazards. Participants in the press announcement gathered at the property of owner Eric Lafayette, whose multi-family rental unit on 184 North Street benefited from the Lead Program in 2015. Using lead-based paint funds, the CEDO Lead Program replaced old, drafty windows with new energy-efficient windows, repaired interior and exterior walls and siding, and repainted the exterior.

Lead poisoning is a serious hazard for children. It can cause significant health damage that is linked to impairments in behavior and learning. Since 2003, CEDO’s Burlington Lead Program has made 584 homes lead-safe. With this new funding, and in partnership with area nonprofit groups, CEDO will build upon its success and perform hazard assessments and remediation on 162 pre-1978 rental and owner occupied housing units in Burlington and Winooski.

In a joint statement, Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch said: “As Vermonters, we have been proud to call our state one of the healthiest in the nation, which is in no small part due to our efforts to ensure that everyone has access to safe, affordable housing.  Now, more than ever, we need to be investing in programs that make this critical link between health and housing. That is why, in this year’s federal appropriations bill, we worked to prevent efforts to cut funding for lead hazard control and achieve a $10 million increase for the HUD Healthy Homes Initiative. Burlington CEDO has been a strong steward of these funds for years, and we are glad to know Burlington will continue its role as a national leader in this effort.”

“At a time of uncertainty about the federal government’s future role in solving pressing local challenges, I am grateful for the tremendous work of our Congressional delegation in helping secure millions of dollars to protect our children from lead poisoning and other housing hazards,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “This grant will allow CEDO to continue its outstanding work making our homes and communities safer.”

“CEDO’s mission has always focused on helping the most vulnerable in our City, and our Burlington Lead Program provides low and moderate income families with a way to reduce lead paint hazards in their homes, giving children a healthy environment to grow and thrive,” said CEDO Director Noelle MacKay. “This award validates the difference our staff and many community partners have made in our community over the past 14 years. Many thanks to Senators Leahy and Sanders as well as Representative Welch for helping Burlington reduce lead hazards for its most vulnerable.”

“We are thrilled to have received the City’s fifth Lead Hazard Control Grant from HUD, and our community is extremely fortunate to have secured another three years of funding to support this critical work,” said CEDO Housing Program Manager Todd Rawlings. “Not only do occupants enjoy a lead-safe unit at project completion, but property owners benefit from grants and forgivable loans for property improvements such as new windows and freshly painted exteriors.”

“I don’t see any reason why a landlord would hold back,” said Burlington property owner Eric Lafayette. “If there’s a program that’s going to make our places safer and look better, then it’s a no brainer.”

The Burlington Lead Program is now accepting applications for Burlington and Winooski properties. To apply and/or learn more information about lead-based paint or other home health hazards, call CEDO’s Burlington Lead Program at 802-865-LEAD or visit www.burlingtonleadprogram.org.

Funding comes from the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, which promotes local efforts to eliminate lead-based paint hazards from homes in Burlington and Winooski and educate the public about the dangers of lead-based paint.

 

* Please see CEDO Lead Program before and after image of 184 North Street.

 

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Press Release Date: 
06/29/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 20, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                 802.734.0617

 

Vermont Leaders Launch State-wide Coalition to Make Good on U.S. Paris Climate Pledge
After Federal Withdrawal, Cities, Non-profits, Colleges and Universities, Businesses, Community Members Invited to Join Coalition, Make Pledges to Reduce Carbon Emissions and Help Vermont Meet U.S. Commitment in Paris Agreement

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger, joined by Governor Phil Scott, members of the Vermont Mayors Coalition, and other community leaders today launched a state-wide coalition – the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition – to help achieve the December 2015 Paris Climate Agreement pledge by the United States and to mitigate the impact of the Federal government’s recent withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. At a news conference held at the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, the Coalition invited all Vermont municipalities, non-profits, colleges and universities, businesses, and community members to join the Coalition and do all they can to reduce carbon emissions in an effort to help Vermont meet the U.S. commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions levels from 2005 by 26-28 percent by 2025. The Coalition, coordinated by the City of Burlington, is intended to complement State goals established in prior years and will convene a summit this fall during which all participating parties will issue their own voluntary organizational pledges that collectively will constitute Vermont’s Climate Pledge for Paris and will be benchmarked against the U.S. goal.

“The withdrawal of the federal government from the Paris Agreement is a historic mistake that makes the generational challenge of addressing climate change even harder, and that must be reversed as soon as possible,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “The withdrawal also makes action at the local level even more urgent. Together, one organization at a time, Vermont cities and towns, businesses, and civil society have the opportunity to make choices and take steps that move our state toward the international goals of the Paris Agreement, as well as toward Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions goals and its goal of being 90 percent renewable by 2050. I am excited to collaborate with Governor Scott, the Vermont Mayors Coalition, and community leaders to launch this effort.”

Last month, Governor Scott and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker sent a letter to the Trump Administration urging that it continue the United States’ commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement. Following the President’s withdrawal from the Agreement, both governors announced that Vermont and Massachusetts would join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of states committed to upholding the Agreement.

“My Administration is committed to meeting our state’s existing targets for carbon reduction and renewable energy, and this statewide coalition can play a key role in our overall strategy,” said Gov. Scott. “I thank Mayor Weinberger and each partner in this coalition, as well as the Agency of Natural Resources and Public Service Department, for their leadership and support in working toward these goals.” 

Federal Delegation Weighs In
The members of Vermont’s federal delegation shared the following thoughts about this new Coalition:

“I am proud to stand with Mayor Weinberger, Governor Scott, and community leaders from across Vermont to uphold the goals set by the Paris Climate Agreement,” said Senator Patrick Leahy. “This is so fitting, because Vermont has always been a leader for clean energy innovation. President Trump’s know-nothing, anti-science agenda for now has ceded American leadership on these vital issues to China and others. For as long as this administration insists on burying its head in the sand, local efforts in Vermont and around the country will continue to carry forward the fight for a healthy planet with clean air and water. The Vermonters of today and tomorrow depend on it.”

“President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement is an abdication of American leadership on one of the most pressing global issues of our time,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, who serves as a member of the Senate’s energy and environment committees. “We must redouble our efforts and keep up the fight, with or without the support of Donald Trump and the fossil fuel industry. I am proud to see Vermont stepping up to meet the challenge and continuing to work to transition our energy system away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and renewable energy. We have a moral obligation to leave our children and our grandchildren a planet every bit as healthy and habitable as the one we inherited.”

“Combatting climate change is the greatest challenge of our time,” said Congressman Peter Welch. “American leadership is essential to preserving our planet for future generations. We cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand, and must move forward with or without the president.”

Coalition Action Plan
The Coalition has been in contact with the leadership of the Climate Mayors group, formed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, which in recent weeks joined former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s group, We Are Still In. We Are Still In seeks to serve the function the federal government would have played had the U.S. remained a party to the Paris Climate Agreement. With the City of Burlington serving as the facilitator, the Coalition’s action plan includes the following steps:
 

  • Grow the membership of the Coalition;
  • Collect as many voluntary pledges as possible from all over Vermont;
  • Establish benchmarking support and analytics – the State, through the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, will provide support in determining how pledges transfer into calculable greenhouse gas emissions reductions, how close Vermont is to reaching the U.S. goal, and scenario-planning for closing any prospective gap;
  • Work with partners to indicate what steps they plan to take to help the U.S. meet its nationally-determined climate contributions;
  • Encourage short-, medium-, and long-term efforts that may include: encouraging transportation alternatives; producing and building a supply chain of locally-sourced goods to minimize the use of transportation emissions necessary to get the goods to market; composting in the backyard; weatherizing homes; and implementing energy efficiency measures;
  • Convene a summit this fall where all the pledges collectively will constitute Vermont’s Climate Pledge for Paris;
  • Track the progress of Coalition members; and
  • Share the progress with We Are Still In.
     

Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition Partners
In addition to the State of Vermont and the City of Burlington, early Coalition members include:
 

  • Burlington Business Association
  • Burlington Electric Department
  • Burton
  • Chittenden Area Transportation Management Association
  • Champlain College
  • Champlain Housing Trust
  • Conservation Law Foundation
  • Dealer.com
  • ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
  • Efficiency Vermont
  • Green Mountain Power
  • Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Local Motion
  • Renewable Energy Vermont
  • Seventh Generation
  • Stowe Electric Department
  • University of Vermont Health Network
  • Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility
  • Vermont Chamber of Commerce
  • Vermont Clean Cities Coalition
  • Vermont Community Foundation
  • Vermont Electric Cooperative
  • Vermont Electric Power Company
  • Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
  • Vermont Gas Systems
  • Vermont Law School
  • Vermont Mayors Coalition
  • Vermont Natural Resources Council
  • Vermont Public Power Supply Authority
  • Vermont Ski Areas Association
  • Vermont State Colleges System
     

“Whatever your emissions reduction trajectory, there’s a place for you and your organization in the Coalition,” stated Liz Gamache, Mayor of St. Albans, incoming Vice President for Grants and Community Investment, Vermont Community Foundation, and outgoing Director of Efficiency Vermont. “Your participation in the work of the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition is vital to creating and sustaining healthy and vital Vermont communities now and in the future.”

“Seventh Generation has instituted an internal carbon tax that has led our entire company to innovate in all facets of business to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Ashley Orgain, Director of Mission Advocacy and Engagement, Seventh Generation. “Decreasing our carbon footprint is mission-critical for Seventh Generation in caring for the next seven generations and we urge other companies to join us.”

“The Vermont State Colleges System stands firmly with Governor Scott, Mayor Weinberger, and the countless other community leaders who are committed to doing all we can to abide by our commitment to the Paris Agreement,” said Patricia Coates, Director of External and Governmental Affairs, Vermont State Colleges System. “At Vermont State Colleges System, we’re training tomorrow’s leaders in sustainability, and growing the clean energy workforce to tackle climate change.”

On Path to Net Zero
Burlington was the first city in the nation to source 100 percent of our energy from renewable generation, and is now working toward becoming a net zero energy city.  The City’s recent steps toward this goal include:

  • Creating a multi-party Memorandum of Understanding for the purposes of exploring the feasibility of a District Energy System that could reduce the City’s total carbon footprint by approximately 20 percent;
  • Launching the Energy Champ Challenge in the spring of 2015 to help Burlingtonians understand and improve their energy efficiency; and
  • Installing 13 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, totaling 24 EV charging ports, in various City locations since 2013.

 

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Press Release Date: 
06/20/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 19, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

City of Burlington Publishes Deleted EPA Climate Change Data to Website
Burlington Joins 13 Cities across the Country in Preserving Public Research on Climate Change

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today announced that the City of Burlington has joined 13 cities from across the country, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, in preserving public research on climate change by posting the deleted Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Climate Change data pages to the City’s website on June 13.  Burlington and other cities followed the lead of City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who announced on May 7 that Chicago had posted the pages deleted by the Trump Administration. Chicago created a website called "Climate Change is Real," encouraging other municipalities to post the climate change research to their cities' websites.

"Climate change is real, and deleting federal web pages that contain years’ worth of research does not alter this global, scientific consensus,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “Residents of the United States deserve to have access to the EPA’s research on climate change, and to make informed decisions on how best to address one of the greatest challenges of our time."

The deleted EPA Climate Change data pages provide scientifically-based information about climate change, the risk it poses to our health and environment, and what we can do to combat it. View these pages on the City of Burlington’s website here: https://climatechange.burlingtonvt.gov/.

Other cities, academic institutions and organizations can post the same information to their own websites by following the “Climate Change is Real” guidelines here: https://chicago.github.io/climatechangeisreal/.

Chicago recruited additional cities to help preserve this important information and ensure it remains accessible to the public. In addition to Burlington, the following cities have participated:

Atlanta, GA
Boston, MA
Burlington, VT
Evanston, IL
Fayetteville, AR
Houston, TX
Milwaukee, WI
New Orleans, LA
Philadelphia, PA
Portland, OR
San Francisco, CA
Seattle, WA
South Bend, IN
St. Louis, MO

 

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Press Release Date: 
06/19/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 12, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617
 

Mayor Weinberger Statement Regarding Arrest of Suspect in Murder of Kevin DeOliveira
 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger released the following statement today in response to the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms arrest in Texas of Richard Monroe, a suspect in the 2015 murder of Kevin DeOliveira.

“Today’s arrest is a testament to the skill and perseverance of the Burlington Police Department and our federal partners,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “I am pleased to see this critical step toward bringing closure to Kevin DeOliveira’s family and the Burlington community. Burlington remains one of the safest cities in the country thanks to the outstanding work of our police officers, and I commend them in their work on this case.”

“Police and prosecutors do not forget about crime victims or their families, and they don’t forget their vow to bring suspects to justice,” said Burlington Police Department Chief Brandon del Pozo. “Sometimes this happens quickly, and sometimes it takes years, but the work doesn’t stop as long as there are leads to pursue. I’d like to thank federal prosecutors, the DEA, U.S. Marshals and the men and women of the BPD for their persistence and hard work.”

 

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 12, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

Mayor Weinberger Seeks City Council Approval of Fiscal Year 2018 Budget
Includes strategic investments in public safety, efforts to support the most vulnerable, Burlington’s children, sustainability, infrastructure, technology, and organizational efficiency measures, all without a General City Tax increase

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today will seek City Council approval of the proposed Fiscal Year 18 (FY18) Budget, which will go before Council tonight at the 7:00pm meeting.

“I am excited about the FY18 budget and what it will allow us to do for the community,” said Mayor Weinberger. “As a result of the financial progress the Administration, City Council, and voters have made together over the last five years, we are now in a position to make significant new investments in public safety, our children, the support of the most vulnerable residents, the City’s infrastructure, our energy efficiency, and more while keeping the total municipal tax rate to just .2% higher than it was three years ago. Some new investments this year are also designed to help contain future costs in order to continue this progress restraining the growth of property taxes.”

Please see the full text of Mayor Weinberger’s Fiscal Year 2018 Proposed Budget Memorandum to City Council below.

Mayor Miro Weinberger’s Fiscal Year 2018 Proposed Budget Memorandum to City Council

Herein is the Mayor’s budget for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18).  This budget builds upon the strong financial foundation re-established over the last several years thanks to the hard work of the City Administration and City Council. In particular, I would like to recognize the sustained vision and effort of our Chief Administrative Officer, Bob Rusten, and the members of his team who deserve a great deal of credit for financial progress we have experienced as a community.  It has been an honor and my great fortune to serve with Bob over the last four budget years.

With the City’s finances restored to a strong position, this budget will advance important community goals while also making prudent and strategic investments now designed to help reduce future taxpayer costs. The total budget reflects feedback from four work sessions in May with the City Council, and includes over $200 million in total annual expenditures. This memo summarizes the highlights of the FY18 budget.

Summary:  The FY18 budget makes strategic investments in public safety, efforts to support the most vulnerable, Burlington’s children, sustainability, infrastructure, technology and organizational efficiency measures without a General City Tax increase.

Highlights of the budget include:
 

  • 3.5 new police officers, the first increase in sworn officers in 15 years;
  • 3 new firefighters, the first increase in more than 15 years;
  • Dramatically increased funding in streets, sidewalks, water lines, the Bike Path and other capital investments as a result of last November’s overwhelming voter approval of the Sustainable Infrastructure Plan;
  • A major investment in early childhood education with a new $500,000 initiative to expand high-quality infant and toddler child care options within the City;
  • Matching funds for a year-round warming shelter pilot that will build on the success of the winter warming shelter in improving the health of some of our most vulnerable residents while also reducing taxpayer costs;
  • The creation of a new, $500,000 Green Revolving Loan Fund to expand and improve the City’s energy efficiency efforts;
  • Funding for the purchase of Computer Assisted Dispatch software that will allow the City to modernize and improve its emergency response efforts;
  • Funding for much needed improvement in the City’s permitting and code enforcement software systems.
     

These and other investments have been achieved while maintaining the General City Tax reduction implemented last fiscal year and while keeping the cost to the City of the pension system flat for the third year in a row as was negotiated in the last round of collective bargaining. Even with the expected increase in the debt service tax to pay for the first year of the voter-approved Sustainable Infrastructure Plan, the total municipal tax in FY18 will be less than .2% greater than the FY15 rate.

In the balance of this memo I will elaborate on these and other elements of the FY18 budget.

Strong financial position with a positive outlook
In March of 2017, Moody’s Investors Service affirmed the City’s A3 credit rating and revised the City’s outlook to positive. In explaining their decision, Moody’s Financial Services (which evaluates the risk associated with Burlington’s debt) called out the City’s structurally balanced operations and ability to modestly improve its reserve levels, as it has done for the past few years, despite rising costs for debt service, salaries, and employee benefits. A positive outlook means future upgrades are expected – and those upgrades allow the City to secure lower interest payments (and thus save taxpayer dollars).  The FY18 budget has been crafted to continue this positive financial progress.

Early Achievement of the Unassigned Fund Balance Policy target has created new opportunities  
The FY16 audit released at the beginning of this year confirmed that the City had achieved its Unassigned Fund Balance goal of $6 million (approximately 10 percent of the City’s General Fund budget) years ahead of the schedule we had set when Fund Balance Policy was created by the Administration and City Council in 2015.  The creation of this police and achievement of its goals has contributed significantly to the Moody’s upgrades of recent years.  With this milestone achieved, the City is now in position to make new one-time and capital investments in the FY18 budget using Unassigned Fund Balance totals that exceeded the 10% target. 

Securing continued benefits of retirement system reforms
The work completed by representatives of the City’s four bargaining units, the City Council, and the City Administration as part of the Retirement Committee in 2014 and 2015, alongside the methodical work of the City’s negotiating team, has helped place our retirement system on more stable footing for future years and helped control taxpayer costs. This effort is a major reason the City’s total FY18 pension cost will remain at the same level as the prior year for the third year in a row.

Proactive investments in Public Safety
Burlington remains one of the safest cities in America, however, like cities across the country, we are facing major law enforcement and public health challenges in the form of a growing opioid crisis, a huge increase in the number of requests for service related to mental health issues, and public demands for changes in the way we police.  Our public safety departments have performed bravely and effectively and built the public’s trust amidst these rising challenges, utilizing innovative strategies, data, transparency, and unwavering commitment.  However, as the challenges continue to grow, it is time to get our police officers and firefighters more help.  The FY18 budget does that in numerous ways:
 

  • 3.5 new police officers in FY18 and an additional 1.5 officers in FY19, bringing the Burlington Police Department to a total of 105 sworn officers. The increase in the number of police is meant to support the Department’s community policing orientation, allowing our officers to spend more time getting to know the neighborhoods they patrol and allowing us to maintain the new emphasis on foot patrols.
     
  • 3 new firefighters, the first increase in more than 15 years, which will be paid for primarily from reduced overtime costs.  The budget also includes funds to expand the City’s recently initiated Paramedicine program that is enabling the City to provide a higher standard of care during emergencies than we were previously able to achieve.
     
  • Expanding CommunityStat, a group of representatives from State Agencies, social service organizations, and regional police departments that meets monthly in City Hall to coordinate our response to the opioid epidemic. This group – which has grown to include Winooski, South Burlington, Milton, Colchester, and Essex – helps us identify and address problems that would be far harder to solve had we continued working in our respective lanes without a central coordination effort.
     
  • Funding the Howard Center Street Outreach Program with $77,500 of General Fund support for the first time.  This successful program helps residents struggling with a wide range of issues from mental health to substance abuse to homelessness. The efforts of the Street Outreach Team have won praise from residents, City Departments, businesses, visitors, and the Burlington Police and complements the work done by the Police Department.

FY18 Budget expands opportunity for our youth and support for the most vulnerable
The FY18 budget includes important new or recent investments in expanded opportunity for Burlingtonians of all backgrounds, including:
 

  • Funding for Early Learning Initiative. The City of Burlington will be funding a new Early Learning Initiative (ELI) focused on Burlington children from birth to age 3. Beginning in FY18, the City will invest $500,000 annually in capacity grants to Burlington childcare programs that provide high-quality care to low income children and commit to increasing the number of slots available for children ages 0 – 3. ELI will support the good work that many childcare 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.  As noted in the budget resolutions, the Administration will return to the Council after additional program design and consultation with stakeholders, including the School District, before initiating this new program.  
     
  • Matching funding for a year-round Warming Shelter pilot. Over the past three winters, the City has supported the work of CVOEO, COTS, and most recently the Community Health Centers of Burlington to run a low barrier warming shelter from November to April. The shelter has been successful in reducing the State’s motel room cold weather exception program costs, saving taxpayers substantial money each year, and helped some of our most vulnerable residents find jobs and find permanent housing. This year, I have reserved $60,000 in matching funds to support extending the shelter year round. Such an approach would extend this valuable service to warmer months during which encampments sometimes are built on public and private land at different locations in the City.
     
  • Increased support for our City AmeriCorps program. Last year, I was pleased to provide $22,000 in bridge funding to ensure our City of Burlington AmeriCorps program provided economic opportunity for low income and other underserved populations though training and mentoring for employability skills. This year, I am increasing that program support to $35,000 to provide educational opportunity for youth of color and other underserved populations though training and mentoring with the goal of decreased barriers to success in education and employment. Our AC Program provides innovative responses to pressing community problems and greater access to services for low income, minority, and other underserved populations.
     
  • Green Infrastructure Fund. This year’s budget allocates $500,000 toward a fund that should be provide capital for projects that reduce the City’s energy use or costs and use the savings from those investments to renew the fund in future years.
     

The FY18 budget continues expanded infrastructure investment
Thanks to the overwhelming support of voters during the November 2016 election – approving investment in our fire engines, streets, sidewalks, Bike Path, and water system – the City has bonded for $8 million to support new sidewalk and street repairs and $3 million to help reline our aging water pipes. This additional investment is focused on:
 

  • Enhanced sidewalk funding.  In FY18 we will triple the historic level of sidewalk replacement as we work to address chronic underfunding of this key infrastructure.
  • A doubling of the amount of street paving completed, including the needed repaving of Rt 127 (the Beltline) during 2017.
  • $3 million for continuing the expansion and rebuilding of the Bike Path from North Beach all the way to the northern City limits in Colchester – a 3-mile stretch with work commencing immediately following the Council’s June 5 approval of the contract; and
  • Substantial investments in City facilities, especially in critical deferred maintenance items identified in our recent independent study of City facilities.
     

To effectively implement these new investments, the FY18 General Fund budget includes 1.5 new positions at DPW. The DPW positions include the Department’s first ever Public Information Manager, who will focus on improving communications with the community about when, where, and why certain construction projects are occurring and taking feedback from the community about how best to minimize the impacts on residents, and a half-time position to assist in facilities management.  This position is comparable to the Public Information Officer position that the Burlington Electric Department has successfully utilized for many years.
 

Further, as in FY17, the FY18 enterprise fund budgets include continuation of enhanced capital investment in the City’s water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure.  The budget includes a combined 3.2 percent increase in the City’s water/wastewater/stormwater rates to continue addressing deferred capital needs identified in Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Capital Planning efforts.  Just under half of this rate increase is due to beginning payment of debt service for 2017 Series Water system bonds authorized by the voters in November 2016, and will provide the needed funding for distribution system improvements.  The average age of the City’s water mains is 75 years – and a full quarter of our system is over 100 years old.  Last year, Burlington piloted a water main relining program that is cheaper and causes less disturbance than excavating and replacing pipes. DPW is applying lessons learned from last summer’s effort, and expects to complete substantially more work this summer, including the relining of Pine Street.
 

Finally, in addition to continuing our progress towards achieving our unassigned fund balance goals, as described above, the FY18 continues comparable efforts to build critical reserves in our enterprise funds.  This year, given the low debt, Moody’s upgraded the City’s Water Utility to “A1.” The City continues to make great strides with its other enterprise funds, having secured a contract with the airlines at Burlington International Airport (BTV) that helps guarantee the debt coverage ratio. In addition, both BTV and BED have increased days cash on hand (COH) both by increasing the liquidity of these enterprises.  Moody’s Investors Service has indicated that BTV’s reaching 200 days COH will be a significant factor as Moody’s considers the Airport for another credit ratings upgrade.  At the end of FY15, BTV had accumulated 176 days COH, and 230 days COH at the end of FY16. BTV targeted 250 days COH as its FY17 goal, and 207 days as its FY18 goal.  BED had 94 days COH by the end of FY15 and 112 days COH at the end of FY16. With a projection of 117 days COH for the end of FY17, BED has targeted 110 days COH for FY18.
 

FY18 marks the fourth consecutive budget with the fair, factual, and forward principles
CAO Bob Rusten first articulated the goals of crafting a Fair, Factual, and Forward Budget early during the FY15 budget process. These goals continue to be reflected in numerous ways in the FY18 budget, and will hopefully be institutionalized in our budget process going forward:
 

Fair:  While the City’s General Fund Budget gets the most attention because of its relationship to property taxes, the Administration and the City Council are responsible for numerous budgets and – while there is considerable overlap – there are different constituencies and users impacted by these different budgets and related taxes and fees.  The Administration and the Council have a responsibility to treat all the different stakeholders accurately and fairly in their cost and revenue allocations between the General Fund and other budgets. 
 

Factual:  The Administration has attempted to be highly factual in its creation of the budget.  In the General Fund alone, we have published a budget with over 3000 line items, each showing the FY18 budget compared to prior year totals and current year actual spending.  As a result of the availability of these comparisons, we began two years ago to make substantial adjustments to prior year budgets.  The resulting improvements in budget accuracy based on our new accounting system having been fully implemented have continued this year and, with the entire City budget and all spending information available online and updated daily, we expect the budget accuracy to continue to improve.
 

Forward:  The FY18 Budget – the fourth created under the direction of CAO Rusten – has benefited from the dramatic improvements in the City’s budgeting practices. As part of the budgeting process, this year for the second time the City was able to project out over the next three fiscal years (FY18, FY19, and FY20) to help identify tradeoffs and plan earlier for future challenges. 
 

Conclusion: the FY18 Budget represents continued progress in numerous areas that the Administration and the City Council have worked on for years, and new opportunities created by the joint successes in recent years.  I again thank you for your help with the development of the FY18 Budget, and respectfully request your strong support for the work and investment of the City in the year ahead.
 

Thank you.

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 5, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

Mayor Weinberger Joins Open Letter to International Community and Parties to the Paris Agreement Stating “We Are Still In;” Affirms City of Burlington’s Commitment to Paris Agreement Goals

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger released the following statement announcing he has joined hundreds of mayors and leaders from across the country in signing an open letter, released today, declaring that the signatories will continue to support the Paris Climate Agreement:

“Burlington is proud to be the first city in the nation to source 100 percent of its energy from renewable generation, and we are now working hard to become a net zero energy city,” said Mayor Weinberger. “I am excited to work with leaders of state and local governments, businesses and institutions to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals regardless of last week’s disastrous decision by President Trump. Together, we can and will do our part to save the planet.”

At the time of its release, the letter included hundreds of businesses, mayors, and presidents of colleges and universities pledging to the international community and parties to the Paris Agreement that “we are still in.” The open letter was coordinated by The B Team, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Center for American Progress, Ceres, CDP, Climate Mayors, Climate Nexus, C40, C2ES, Georgetown Climate Center, ICLEI, National League of Cities, Rocky Mountain Institute, Second Nature, Sierra Club, We Mean Business, and World Wildlife Fund.

Since becoming the first city in the country in 2014 to source 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources, the City Administration has begun making investments necessary to become a net zero energy city within ten to 15 years across electricity, thermal and ground transportation sectors. Recent municipal initiatives related to this goal include:
 

  • Creating a multi-party Memorandum of Understanding for the purposes of exploring the feasibility of a District Energy System.  Such a system could reduce the City’s total carbon footprint by approximately 20%.
  • Launching the Energy Champ Challenge in the spring of 2015 to help Burlingtonians understand and improve their energy efficiency.
  • Installing 13 Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations, totaling 24 charging ports, in various City locations since 2013.
  • Completing the first phase of the Waterfront Bike Path rehabilitation in January, 2017, and breaking ground on the second phase in June, 2017.
  • Adopting the new PlanBTV Walk/Bike Master Plan in April, 2017.
  • Exploring an E-Bus pilot program in April, 2017.
  • Launching a new Electric Vehicle rebate program in May, 2017.

     

The Mayor has also supported the objectives of a number of environmental and energy coalitions and campaigns since 2014 in keeping with these climate goals, including:
 

  • Michael Bloomberg’s Compact of Mayors (2015)
  • Becoming a “Climate Mayor” as part of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Mayors National Climate Action Agenda (December, 2016)
  • Environment America’s “Voices for 100% Renewable Energy” campaign (April, 2017)
  • Sierra Club’s “Mayors for 100% Clean Energy,” part of the Sierra Club’s “Ready for 100” campaign (May, 2017)
     

* View the “We Are Still In” letter to the international community and parties to the Paris Agreement here.

Press Release Date: 
06/05/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 31, 2017
Contact: Katie Vane, Mayor’s Office, 802.734.0617
                Nina Safavi, Parks, Recreation & Waterfront, 802.865.7248

Mayor Weinberger, Burlington Parks Foundation, UVM Medical Center, and Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Celebrate Completion of Phase 1 of the Bike Path Rehabilitation
Unveil Beginning of UVM Medical Center Fitness Trail; Boulder Commemorating Parks Foundation Donations, and Honor Parks Foundation Founding Board Member John Ewing 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today joined University of Vermont (UVM) Medical Center and Health Network CEO Dr. John Brumsted, Burlington Parks Foundation Founding Board Chair John Bossange, former Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Director Jesse Bridges and Interim Director Nina Safavi, donors and members of the Burlington community to celebrate the completion of Phase 1 of the Bike Path Rehabilitation. The new phase includes three new installations of exercise equipment donated by UVM Medical Center, which represent the beginning of the UVM Medical Center Fitness Trail.

Bossange also unveiled a commemorative boulder dedicated to the generous donors who helped fund the rehabilitation of the Waterfront Bike Path, and Mayor Weinberger read a proclamation honoring Parks Foundation Founding Board Member John Ewing for his service to the community.

“We are making great progress in the critical effort to restore and improve the Burlington Bike Path,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “The Parks Foundation and UVM Medical Center have played key roles in both enhancing the path with new parks and equipment and in showing the community support necessary to leverage much broader public investment for the benefit of all our residents.”

The first phase of the multi-year effort to completely rebuild, expand, and enhance the entire eight-mile Burlington Bike Path broke ground in 2014 with Phase 1a, from Waterfront Park to Perkins Pier. Phase 1a included updating the path to current multi-use standards and enhancing the landscape from Perkins Pier to Penny Lane. The total construction cost was $830,000 and construction concluded in 2015.

At Wednesday’s event, representatives gathered at the third pause place park overlooking Lake Champlain, part of the Bike Path Phase 1b rehabilitation from Penny Lane to North Beach. Phase 1b construction began in summer 2016 and concluded in January 2017, and included the creation of three new pause place parks and accessible connectivity to the recently acquired Texaco Beach, the planting of over 120 trees, over 160 shrubs, plus thousands of perennials, as well as the first three installations of UVM Medical Center-donated fitness equipment. The total budget for Phase 1b was $2.4 million.

The Parks Foundation generously donated $350,000 of a total $1 million raised in 2016 toward Phase 1b. The remaining $650,000 will be used to create additional pause places and connections along the Waterfront Bike Path. UVM Medical Center contributed a total of $250,000 toward the fitness equipment project. Phase 1b was also funded by the Waterfront Tax Increment Financing (TIF), Fiscal Year 2016 Capital Improvement Program Support, Penny for Parks, and Bike Path Maintenance and Improvement Fund.

“Through the generosity of our donors, including the UVM Medical Center, combined with the dedication of staff, volunteers and the taxpayers of Burlington we have created an inclusive social space for future generations to enjoy,” said former Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Director Jesse Bridges. “It is truly inspiring to see the community come together to support the combination of conservation, wellness and social equity.” 

Parks Foundation commemorates community generosity
The commemorative boulder, unveiled near the new overlook north of the Skate Park, celebrates the generous donations and pledges from over 250 residents and businesses that helped the Parks Foundation reach its goal in 2016 of raising $1 million for the Waterfront Bike Path rehabilitation.

"The Parks Foundation of Burlington represents the spirit of stewardship and philanthropy for our community's treasured parks and recreational assets for our residents and visitors,” said Burlington Parks Foundation Founding Board Chair John Bossange. “The funds we raised not only signify how much generosity there is in Burlington, but also show a deep understanding of the importance of preserving open natural areas for free, public access.  This new pause place park is the first of many projects to be funded by the Foundation not only along the bike path, but in other areas of the city as well.  We are most grateful to all our donors for their contributions and commitment to community and we look forward to steering exciting new initiatives in support of our treasured park lands."

John Bossange and Mayor Weinberger recognized the contributions of Parks Foundation Founding Board Member John Ewing, who was present at the event, with a proclamation declaring May 31 a day in his honor. The proclamation noted that John Ewing has been a committed and engaged resident of Burlington and Vermont for 60 years, and has served on countless boards and commissions, volunteering his time and expertise. It celebrated Ewing’s leadership as Commissioner and Chair of the Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Commission and as the Parks Foundation Board member in the effort to transform and improve the Burlington Waterfront, playgrounds, and open space areas.

UVM Medical Center unveils its “Fitness Trail”
One of the new features of Phase 1b of the rehabilitated bike path is fitness equipment installed in May 2017 at the three new pause places between Penny Lane and North Beach. These first installations make up the beginning of the UVM Medical Center Fitness Trail, which is planned to continue in other parks and pause places throughout the rehabilitation of the Path.

Clinicians at UVM Medical Center with expertise in orthopedics, wellness, physical therapy and cardiac rehabilitation collaborated with experts from Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront to help select equipment that would appeal to all levels of fitness, would address multiple muscle groups in the body, and would include accessible and easy-to-understand instructions that could be easily followed to ensure proper usage.

“There is no better prescription for wellness than outdoor recreation, and so it is wonderful to see this first part of the renovated bike path come to fruition_ providing our patients and the public with a place to pause, exercise, reflect and enjoy the view of Lake Champlain,” said UVM Medical Center and Health Network CEO Dr. John Brumsted  “UVM Medical Center is thrilled to be a part of this effort  to renovate and enhance the Burlington bike path, which is such an asset to the people of our region."

Bike Path rehabilitation to continue with Phase 2
Parks, Recreation & Waterfront has led the effort to rehabilitate the entire eight mile bike path running through downtown Burlington and along the Lake Champlain Waterfront. Phase 1b brought the City one step closer to its five-year completion goal for the full eight miles, with a total projected cost of $13-$16 million.

Bids for Phase 2 of the Bike Path rehabilitation, which will span from North Beach to Colchester, came back on budget on May 12,, 2017. Construction will begin next week. Phase 2 construction is expected to conclude at the Winooski Bridge in December with landscape plantings scheduled for next spring.

Details, including a tentative schedule and detour information, will be announced in June. Visit https://enjoyburlington.com/burlington-greenway-phase-2/ for updates or to sign up for the Bike Path Construction newsletter.Next summer, Parks, Recreation & Waterfront will oversee the construction of new pause places at Leddy Park, North Shore and Starr Farm, with Leddy Park and Starr Farm to receive exercise equipment.

“This is just the beginning of our work to fully rehabilitate the Waterfront Bike Path, transforming it into a Burlington Greenway,” said Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Interim Director Nina Safavi. “We look forward to the installation of additional exercise trail stations, and to future improvements to the northern and southern portions of the Bike Path.”

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Press Release Date: 
05/31/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

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