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

May 17, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617
 

Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces Bob Rusten to Leave Chief Administrative Officer Position
Rusten to Conclude Four Highly Successful Years as Burlington CAO on September 1st; Search for Replacement Underway; Rusten Likely to Continue Service to the City in a Part-Time Special Projects Role
 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today announced that Burlington Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Bob Rusten will be leaving the CAO position on September 1, 2017 after serving in City Hall since 2013.  Rusten played a critical role in numerous key initiatives over the last four years, including the restoration of the City’s credit rating, voter passage of a five year infrastructure plan, and substantial reform of the City’s retirement system. 

“I am deeply grateful for the tremendous service that Bob Rusten has provided to Burlington as our CAO,” said Mayor Weinberger. “I have known this day was coming, but that does not make Bob’s departure any easier. For four years, Bob has served with dedication, precision, and good humor.  Generations of Burlingtonians will benefit from the work Bob led to restore the City’s finances, strengthen its management, and responsibly steward its infrastructure.”

“I am proud of the work the CAO’s Office has completed with the Mayor, City Council, and City employees to resolve the City’s longstanding financial issues,” said Rusten. “With a sound financial footing from which to work, and with an incredible Clerk Treasurer’s team and City Department Heads and staff, the Mayor and Council can feel more confident than ever in focusing on the future of Burlington. I look forward to continuing to work with Burlington on City projects.”

“As a member of the CAO search committee four years ago, I had a great feeling that Bob’s presence in City Hall would be one our City would benefit from for years to come,” said City Councilor Karen Paul. “My only regret is that the end of his tenure has come too quickly.  Bob’s involvement in pension reform and collaborative bargaining were instrumental in the significant and ground-breaking advances we have made in the past few years. As an auditor, I respect Bob’s commitment to best practices which has led to a cleaner audit and strong financials. Bob is one of the unsung heroes in City Hall and he will surely be missed.”

"Bob Rusten leaves an impressive legacy as the City's CAO, with many significant accomplishments behind him," said City Council President Jane Knodell. "In his dealings with the City Council, he was always forthcoming and crystal-clear. I admire his integrity, work ethic, and commitment to good government. On behalf of the entire City Council, I thank him for his outstanding service to the people of Burlington."

Prior to becoming the City of Burlington’s CAO, Rusten successfully led financial turnarounds in both South Burlington, Vermont and Wilmington, Vermont. Rusten also brought valuable experience with pension reform and collective bargaining to Burlington, having sat at both ends of the collective bargaining table. At different points in his career, Rusten led union negotiations on behalf of municipalities as well as participated in union negotiations on behalf of a steelworkers union.

During his years as Burlington’s CAO, Rusten worked to rebuild the City’s financial integrity, enhance collaboration between the City and unions, and address longstanding Department staffing needs while also producing balanced, forward-looking budgets.

With Rusten’s guidance and effort, the City:

  • Restored its credit from the edge of junk bond status to an “A” rating. In March of 2017, Moody’s Investors Service not only affirmed the City’s A3 credit rating, but revised the City’s outlook to positive. Moody’s also upgraded the Airport’s credit rating to Baa3, and BED’s credit rating to A3 during Rusten’s tenure.
  • Secured a clean management letter and audit for FY16 (in FY12, the City’s auditor found one significant finding and 12 material weaknesses).
  • Led successful rounds of union negotiations resulting in substantial pension and health care reform. This reform saved taxpayers an estimated $2.2 million from 2013-2016, and is projected to save a total of $8 million by 2020. Rusten, as part of the City’s negotiating team, and with the active participation from the City’s four bargaining units, helped in drafting contracts that now include a shared risk process to address spikes in the actuarial required contribution.
  • Created the five year, $50 million Capital Plan, which will allow the City to properly steward its streets, sidewalks, water mains, Bike Path, and other vital public infrastructure for future generations. Rusten’s work helped ensure the Capital Plan would come at a modest cost to property taxpayers, and would ultimately save Burlington taxpayers money by keeping pace with needed infrastructure improvements, rather than waiting until costly emergency interventions become necessary.
  • Addressed long-standing staffing needs within the City, including supporting the addition of staff positions to IT, Police, and Fire Departments. These staffing increases were accomplished with minimal impact to the City’s budget.
  • Assembled disciplined, forward-looking budgets that saw the City realize its fund balance target nearly two years early.
  • Reorganized the Clerk/Treasurer’s Office, including improvements made to the front desk, licensing, elections, and modernizing land use records that led to better services for taxpayers at lower overall costs.
     

Mayor Weinberger, City Attorney Eileen Blackwood and Rusten are in conversations about Rusten continuing to serve the City beyond September 1, 2017 in a part-time role that would include work on collective bargaining issues and other special projects. Rusten’s substantial institutional knowledge on these matters, and his proven ability to secure benefits for taxpayers, would make his continued service in this limited role valuable. Any such role would have to be supported by the City Council as part of the FY18 budget approval process in June.

Burlington Electric Department General Manager Neale Lunderville has agreed to lead the search process for a new CAO.

 

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Press Release Date: 
05/17/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 9, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane, Mayor’s Office, 802.734.0617
                  Michael Harrington, Vermont Department of Labor, 802.828.4301

 

Vermont Department of Labor Partners with the City of Burlington to Help Youth Find Jobs
Second Annual Jobs for Youth Fair Includes 66 Participating Employers; 17 Training Providers Offering Tailored Workshops for Youth Ages 16-24

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today joined Vermont Department of Labor Deputy Commissioner Michael Harrington, Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George, Spectrum Youth and Family Services Multicultural Youth Program Coordinator Michael Hill, Jr., Westport Hospitality Human Resources Director Amy Shea and Westport Hospitality COO Joe Carton, to encourage participation in the second annual Jobs for Youth Fair to be held on Thursday, May 11 in the Burlington Town Center. This job fair is part of the ‘Jobs for Youth Initiative’ to assist youth, ages 16 to 24, who face barriers securing employment and/or discovering a career path. The job fair is open to all.

The Vermont Department of Labor (VDOL) will provide tailored workshops from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to assist youth in the completion of applications, mock interviewing, job search skills and exploring career pathways. Employers and training providers will participate from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., offering participants an opportunity to explore summer jobs, internships, careers, and apprenticeships that do not require a college degree.

Governor Phil Scott expressed his support for the Jobs for Youth Fair in a statement:

“This program creates greater opportunity for Vermont’s youth who may otherwise not have access to these job opportunities, which is incredibly valuable for these kids, their employers and the state. The Jobs for Youth Fair is an important program considering we’re losing six people from our workforce every day. One of the best ways to help our young people and our state succeed is by connecting motivated young Vermonters with Vermont employers. I look forward to seeing the connections and partnerships that grow from this event.”

“The City of Burlington is proud to support the second annual Jobs for Youth Fair,” said Mayor Weinberger. “Since we accepted President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Challenge in 2016, we have been working to ensure that all youth in our community have the opportunity to find employment and continue their education. The Jobs for Youth Fair supports these efforts by bringing together an impressive list of employers and professionals to assist our youth in achieving their full potential.”  

“We are proud to be able to offer this opportunity again for the youth of Vermont,” said Department of Labor Deputy Commissioner Michael Harrington. “Our number one priority at the Department of Labor remains making sure that job seekers can obtain meaningful employment, and that Vermont businesses find the skilled workers they need to be successful. This can only be done if we engage our youth and provide them with opportunities to grow.”

“The Jobs for Youth Fair offers youth with barriers to employment a chance to move forward,” said Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George. “Youth may experience these barriers for a variety of reasons, including having a case in the criminal justice system. Thanks to the Jobs for Youth Fair, these individuals now have an opportunity to make a positive change in their lives by seeking and securing valuable job experience.”

"This Job Fair is an opportunity to really support the youth and young adults who want to work and become independent,” said Spectrum Coordinator of Multicultural Youth Program Michael Hill, Jr. “Spectrum Youth and Family Services is an organization that believes in empowering and supporting youth and young adults in finding their own paths to success. It is only natural for us to be collaborating and assisting with this Job Fair."

The Jobs for Youth Fair was launched in 2016 by then-Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan to provide youth who face barriers to their employment with opportunities for job application training and summer job placement. The 2016 Job Fair at the King Street Center included 18 employers, 12 community partners and training providers, and over 100 youth attendees. This year, 66 employers will be participating, along with 17 community partners training providers (please see attached list of employers).

This is the second year the City of Burlington has participated in the event, offering youth opportunities for summer jobs and internships through the Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO), Parks, Recreation & Waterfront, and Human Resources Departments. In 2016, the City of Burlington established its My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to address opportunity gaps faced by youth in the community, particularly youth of color. The Jobs for Youth Fair aligns with the City’s goal of providing youth of color greater access to opportunities for employment, education, and community leadership.

The Job Fair is open to all, and youth age 16-24 are particularly encouraged to attend on May 11, especially those facing barriers to employment. Barriers may include:

  • Incomplete High School

  • Individual with a diploma who is Basic Skills deficient or an English Language Learner (ELL)

  • Criminal record

  • Homeless, runaway, foster child

  • Pregnant or parenting

  • Disability

  • Needs Additional Assistance to enter/complete an educational program or secure or hold employment

In addition to Thursday’s Jobs for Youth Fair, the Vermont Department of Labor Workforce Development Division will present information about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Youth program.  This program provides one-on-one mentoring services for youth to help match them with employment and/or training opportunities and help prepare youth to enter the workforce. Eligible participants can be assigned a WIOA case manager who can assist in identifying an individual’s strengths and interests, and connect them with an appropriate employer and/or training provider.

“Employers can easily get involved and support the one-on-one mentoring services by offering job shadow opportunities and internships that provide a hands-on work and training experience,” said Westport Hospitality Human Resources Director Amy Shea. “These types of initiatives can provide a valuable experience in getting youth motivated in a new career."

This job fair is hosted by the Vermont Department of Labor in partnership with the City of Burlington's Community and Economic Development Office, Parks, Recreation & Waterfront, and My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.

 

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Press Release Date: 
05/09/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 5, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane, Mayor’s Office, 802.734.0617
                  Jon Adams-Kollitz, Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront, 802.540.0363

 

Mayor Miro Weinberger Promotes Active Transportation Options During Sixth Annual Multi-Modal Tour
Announces New CATMA Bikeshare Pilot Program, Looks Forward to Progress Resulting from PlanBTV Walk/Bike, Great Streets, and Burlington Town Center Redevelopment 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger, South Burlington City Manager Kevin Dorn, Burlington and South Burlington City officials, and community partners today promoted active transportation options during the sixth annual Multi-Mayor Multi-Modal Tour. The Tour began at Burlington’s City Hall and took participants by foot, bike, bus, and rideshare to locations around Burlington and South Burlington that demonstrate each city’s transportation successes and challenges.

The Multi-Modal tour began in 2012 as an opportunity to give participants firsthand experience of Burlington and neighboring cities’ walking, biking, and public transportation infrastructure. Mayor Weinberger noted the considerable progress that the City of Burlington has made strengthening this infrastructure over the past six years.

“Any time someone takes a trip here on foot, bike, or bus instead of by car the community becomes healthier, more affordable, and greener, and parking and road congestion drops,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “One of our most important jobs as a City is to make these alternative trips easier.  On my sixth multi-modal tour, it was exciting to see that this year we have both more transportation improvements to celebrate, and more near-term progress to look forward to than ever before."

"All signs are that 2017 will be the year that Burlington starts to go multimodal in a big way,” said Jason Van Driesche, Interim Executive Director of Local Motion, who joined the Mayor in kicking off the Tour. “Local Motion is looking forward to seeing extensive planned improvements for biking and walking become a reality."

Mayor Weinberger previews new CATMA Regional Bikeshare bicycle

This year’s Multi Modal Tour also presented an opportunity for an exciting announcement about the new Chittenden Area TMA (CATMA) Regional Bikeshare pilot program, set to launch in Burlington in the summer of 2017. The pilot program is the result of a partnership between CATMA, Champlain College, and the University of Vermont, and was inspired by the PlanBTV Walk/Bike Plan.

The first phase of the project will include the installation of 18 bikeshare hubs primarily on the University of Vermont (UVM) and Champlain College campuses, with several hubs located in downtown Burlington. 110 Gotcha Bikes—including one Mayor Weinberger rode at Friday’s event—will be available to bikeshare users on a short-term rental basis. Through a partnership with Social Bicycles, all Gotcha Bikes have built-in smart lock technology that allows users to locate and access the bikes through a computer or smart phone (iOs and Android).

Pending strong reception and success of this first phase, the second phase of the project will include 50 more hubs with over 200 bikes available for use in Burlington and surrounding areas.

Bikeshare is a much needed transportation option that we feel confident will revolutionize our communities’ physical health and wellbeing,” said Sandy Thibault, Executive Director at Chittenden Area TMA. “Bikeshare will be the final piece to our puzzle in our transportation options."

Some highlights of the tour included:

A stop at Main Street and St. Paul Street to highlight future improvements the Great Streets Initiative will bring to the street, sidewalks and pedestrian crossings.

“Having reliable and accessible alternative forms of transportation is critical for people with disabilities to maintain their independence,” said Nate Besio, VCIL Peer Advocate Coordinator. “We always look forward to working with the city of Burlington on promoting and improving its pedestrian and public transportation infrastructure so people of all abilities living in the community can maintain healthy and active lifestyles.”

A visit to the Burlington Town Center.

"We are looking forward to rebuilding the heart of Burlington by reconnecting Pine and St. Paul Streets and adding much-needed apartments, offices, new shops and services, all right next to Burlington's new downtown transportation hub,” said Don Sinex, Burlington Town Center owner. “The new Burlington Town Center truly will be a place where people will live, work, play, bike, walk, and enjoy all the Burlington has to offer."

A stop at the new GMT Downtown Transit Center.

"The new GMT Downtown Transit Center (DTC) has been a much needed upgrade for passengers who commute to and from Burlington every day," said Mark A. Sousa, GMT General Manager. "The state-of-the-art facility offers space for future ridership growth and a safe, convenient location to improve the rider experience.”

Before crossing into South Burlington, the tour visited the University of Vermont (UVM).

“This is a very exciting time for the entire community with the creation of our ‘UVM Moves – Active Transportation Plan,’ the City of Burlington’s Plan BTV Walk/Bike, Champlain College’s Active Transportation Plan, and the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) Regional Bike/Ped Plan,” said Jim Barr, UVM Transportation and Parking Services Director. “We are all on the same page in bringing a more active transportation model to the region. UVM will continue to work on infrastructure improvements that encourage active transportation, and we look forward to launching a regional bikeshare pilot program this summer in partnership with Chittenden Area TMA that will help students get around our campus and city by bike.”

South Burlington highlights successes and details current projects

Joining the Multi-Modal Tour for the first time this year were representatives of South Burlington, including South Burlington City Council Chair Helen Riehle, City Council Co-Chair Meaghan Emery, and other South Burlington officials. Tour participants had an opportunity to learn about South Burlington’s goal of improving alternative transportation options within South Burlington, and connectivity between South Burlington and Burlington.

“Multimodal settings and design have become an important component of our transportation infrastructure planning,” said South Burlington City Manager Kevin Dorn. “While South Burlington has an extensive bike and pedestrian system in areas of the city, there is still much work to do. We are addressing pedestrian/bicycle/vehicle conflicts with passive and active solutions such as transit service, bicycle lanes, shared use paths, and improved sidewalks. Our current projects, such as possible improvements at the I-89/Exit 14 crossing can facilitate increased bike and pedestrian usage. This is a critical link for both Burlington and South Burlington.”

2017 Multi-Mayor Multi-Modal Tour Itinerary:  May 5 from 8:00am – 12:00pm

8:00                     Meet at City Hall, front steps, 149 Church St.: Welcome from City of Burlington, Local Motion. Depart on foot, walk bikes

                              Speakers: Mayor Miro Weinberger; Chapin Spencer, Department of Public Works; Jon Adams-Kollitz, Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront; Jason Van Driesche, Local Motion

8:30                     Main St. & St. Paul St.: Great Streets/City Hall Park Project, Meagan Tuttle, Department of Planning & Zoning; Carshare VT

8:45                     Main St. & Pine St.: Main St. Design, Meagan Tuttle, Department of Planning & Zoning; Neale Lunderville and Jen Green, Burlington Electric

8:55                     Main St. @ Train Station: The future of multi modalism, Chapin Spencer, Department of Public Works

                             Getting around the city by wheelchair, Nate Besio, Vermont Center for Independent Living

9:20                     Pause Place 3/Texaco Beach: A new bike path and a new park, Nina Safavi, Burlington Parks Recreation & Waterfront

9:40                     Bikes picked up by Local Motion and Stu Lindsay at Skinny Pancake

9:50                     Cherry St. & Pine St.: The future Burlington Town Center, Don Sinex, Burlington Town Center

                              Restoring the urban grid, Jason Van Driesche, Local Motion 

10:00                  Downtown Transit Center: Mark A. Sousa, Green Mountain Transit

                              CATMA Regional Bikeshare, Nic Anderson, Champlain College              

10:15                  Depart on GMT #1 Williston bus 

10:20                  Main St. & S. Union St.: De-board bus, pick up bikes from Local Motion van

10:30                  Main St. & S. Union St.: Plan BTV Walk/Bike Union St. protected bike lane, Nicole Losch, Department of Public Works                      

10:40                  Plan BTV Walk/Bike ‘The Wiggle,’ Nicole Losch, Department of Public Works

11:00                  University of Vermont: UVM Active Transportation Plan, Jim Barr, UVM Transportation & Parking Services

11:20                  Exit 14 crossing by bike

11:30                  Holiday Inn/Doubletree: South Burlington Welcome, Kevin Dorn, South Burlington City Manager

 

# # #

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 3, 2017
Contacts:  Katie Vane, Mayor’s Office, 802.734.0617
                   Erik Oliver, ECHO Leahy Center, 802.864.1848
 

Mayor Miro Weinberger, ECHO Leahy Center, Edmunds Elementary Students Encourage Community Participation in Burlington’s Green Up Day Efforts on Saturday, May 6

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger, ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain Executive Director Phelan Fretz, Burlington Electric Department General Manager Neale Lunderville, City Sustainability Coordinator Jennifer Green, Skinny Pancake Founder and Owner Benjy Adler, and Edmunds Elementary School first, third, and fourth graders today encouraged community participation in the City of Burlington’s Green Up Day efforts this Saturday, May 6. This year marks the state’s 47th annual Green Up Day, during which Vermonters collect litter and debris left behind by the spring snow melts on City streets and in our parks and neighborhoods. The group – joined by the Lake Monsters’ furry sustainability advocate, CHAMP, and inspired with the knowledge that free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream awaited them upon job completion – collected trash around ECHO and along the Burlington Bike Path up to the Perkins Pier parking lot, as well as along the route between ECHO and Edmunds Elementary.

“This year and every year, Green Up Day is a great example of how our community rolls up its sleeves and works together to keep our City vibrant and clean,” said Mayor Weinberger. “I thank our Green Up Day partners and all Burlingtonians, especially our amazing and dedicated Edmunds Elementary students, for their crucial help this weekend.”

“At ECHO, we inspire our visitors to positively impact the world around us,” said Phelan Fretz, ECHO Leahy Center Executive Director. “Our goal for all visitors who walk through our doors is that they accept the call to make a difference through their post-visit actions, that they help make our great lake and our planet a little better, greener than they were.”

“As a local business, we take our commitment to our community seriously,” said Benjy Adler, Skinny Pancake Founder and Owner. “We believe there is no profit without purpose, which is why we source our food locally and donate 1% of our revenue to local non-profit organizations that help protect our planet. We are committed to recycling and composting to reduce the waste that goes to the landfill. We’re honored to help promote Green Up Day.”

To participate, City residents and other Burlington stakeholders can pick up bags and other clean up supplies on Saturday, May 6 between 8:00 am- 12:00 pm at the following hubs:

  • St. Joseph’s School, 20 Allen Street

  • Robert E. Miller Community Center, 130 Gosse Court

  • Burlington Subaru, 351 Shelburne Road

  • Salmon Hole Park, Riverside Avenue before the Winooski Bridge

Bags also are available prior to Green Up Day through Friday, May 5 during regular business hours at the following locations around the City:

  • St. Joseph’s School, 20 Allen Street
     
  • Departments of Public Works/Parks, Recreation & Waterfront, 645 Pine Street
     
  • Miller Community Center, 130 Gosse Court

  • Burlington Electric Department, 585 Pine Street

  • Community & Economic Development Office, City Hall, 3rd floor, 149 Church Street

  • Burlington Subaru, 351 Shelburne Road

For the second year, Burlington’s Green Up Day will include a special incentive prize opportunity.  Those community members who pick up their bags at Burlington Electric will be entered to win a “Green-Up Basket,” including power strips, CFL bulbs, and Burlington Electric schwag.

Also for the second year, the Burlington Business Association’s “Adopt Your Sidewalk” downtown clean-up event will take place on Friday, May 5 from 8:30-9:30am (with a rain date of May 12).  Volunteers should "bring their brooms" and meet at the corner of Church and Cherry streets for a clean-up focused on Cherry Street's sidewalks. The Adopt Your Sidewalk Campaign asks businesses to sign up and pledge to clean, maintain, and beautify the strip of sidewalk in front of their business. For more information on Adopt Your Sidewalk, please contact Sarah O’Donnell, BBA Member Services and Events Manager, at sarah@bbavt.org.

On Green Up Day, the Departments of Public Works and Parks, Recreation & Waterfront will have trucks circling the City’s major thoroughfares, picking up full, tied bags of collected trash throughout the day.  All trash collected should go into the provided Green Up Day trash bags. Scrap metal or tires should be kept separate, not in bags, and placed in a pile at the same Green Up Day drop-off site. This material will be collected and recycled.

The City appreciates Burlington's Green Up Day partners – including Chittenden Solid Waste District and Burlington Subaru – and the hundreds of volunteers who come out every year to make Burlington's streets and parks clean and green. Burlington Subaru will provide water bottles, snacks, and a noon-time barbeque to participating community members.
 

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Press Release Date: 
05/03/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 26, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617
 

 

Mayor, State’s Attorney, and Representatives of Regional Police Departments Tracking Increase in Suspected Fentanyl-Related Overdoses Announce Support for S.22
Leaders urge legislature to create new trafficking penalties before adjournment

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today joined Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George, Vermont State Police Criminal Division Commander Major Glenn Hall, and representatives from the Burlington, Colchester, South Burlington, and Winooski Police Departments in expressing support for S.22, an act relating to increased penalties for knowingly dispensing, selling, or possessing with the intent to distribute fentanyl.

“Fentanyl traffickers are here and sowing great damage in our community,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger.  “Vermont police and prosecutors need updated laws to confront them.  This is a time for urgent action, not study.”

“The new collaboration between my office, the City of Burlington, and our regional police departments has revealed a concerning increase in suspected fentanyl-related overdoses here in Chittenden County,” said Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George. “We have seen in neighboring states the damage that fentanyl can do. This proposed legislation will be crucial in helping us curb increased fentanyl distribution in Chittenden County by creating stronger penalties for the trafficking and sale of fentanyl.”

“Throughout New England, fentanyl is outpacing heroin as a killer at rates of up to sixty to one,” said Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo. “From treatment to recovery to enforcement, we need good tools at our disposal to address this crisis. The ability to charge fentanyl dealers with the same type of felony as heroin dealers is essential to protecting public health and safety.”

Participants in Wednesday’s press conference noted that neighboring New Hampshire has seen a dramatic increase in fentanyl-related overdose deaths in recent years. In 2016, fentanyl played a role in 326 out of 479 drug overdose-related deaths. Of all overdose deaths, fentanyl was listed as the sole cause of death in 198 cases, while heroin was listed as the sole cause in three.

Although the number of fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Vermont is lower than in neighboring states, Vermont has seen a tenfold increase in fentanyl-related overdose fatalities over the past six years, from five in 2010 to 51 in 2016.

Recent overdoses in the Chittenden County region suggest this trend may be worsening. Between April 4 and April 18, Burlington, Colchester, Milton, South Burlington, and Winooski, Colchester Police Departments reported 13 opioid-related overdose incidents, some with multiple individuals overdosing, and two of which resulted in fatalities. These five police departments have increased the level of coordination in recent months as part of the Mayor’s “CommunityStat” effort designed to bring together the many stakeholders working to address the opioid crisis. While it is too early to determine the exact opioids contributing to these overdoses, it is suspected fentanyl contributed to the majority of the overdoses.

Yet the dispensation or sale of fentanyl is not a felony in Vermont, and penalties for the sale, dispensation, and transportation of fentanyl do not reflect the severity of its impact. The Mayor, State’s Attorney, and representatives from the region’s police departments all noted the need for a change to empower the court system to treat fentanyl the way it treats heroin.

* Please see the Senate Journal excerpt from April 25, 2017 reflecting the current S.22 language regarding fentanyl penalties.

 

# # #

Press Release Date: 
04/26/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 20, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617
 

Vermont Mayors, Housing Leaders Support Governor’s $35 Million Housing Revenue Bond

 

Burlington, VT – The Vermont Mayors Coalition today announced strong support for Governor Phil Scott’s $35 million Housing Revenue Bond, which is currently under consideration by the legislature.

“Our enthusiasm for the bond and the other elements of the housing proposal (including the downtown tax credits) is rooted in the different needs that exist in our communities,” the Mayors Coalition stated in a letter addressed to Governor Scott, President Pro-Tem Tim Ashe, and House Speaker Mitzi Johnson. “Some of our cities need reinvestment and revitalization of deteriorated properties, while other communities need new housing to serve our workforce. In all parts of the state we need more housing to protect the most vulnerable Vermonters as well as our senior citizens.”

The Vermont Mayors Coalition urged the legislature to take action on the Housing Revenue Bill during this session rather than in small increments, in order to make a substantive change to the State’s affordable housing stock while interest rates and construction costs remain low.

The Coalition noted that many Vermont communities are working to address Vermont’s housing crisis through changes in zoning bylaws, partnerships with nonprofit and private developers, supporting local housing trust funds, promoting the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhood revitalization efforts, and investing in infrastructure improvements. Action at the state level will help these communities bridge the gap between the cost of building housing and what Vermonters can afford.

“We believe this bond will bring short and long term benefits to the state,” the letter stated. “It will help us expand the opportunity to revitalize and reinvest in our communities, expand our grand list, create construction jobs and leverage both public investment, while it is still available from the federal government, and private investment through mechanisms such as the low income housing tax credit.

“There is a broad and strong consensus in support of this proposal, and the time to act is now.”

The Vermont Mayors Coalition is a non-partisan group that is dedicated to promoting policies that improve the health and vitality of Vermont’s cities. The Vermont Mayors Coalition was created in 2013 by Vermont’s eight mayors and includes:
 

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

* Please see letter from the Vermont Mayors Coalition to Governor Scott, President Ashe and House Speaker Johnson.

 

# # #

 

Press Release Date: 
04/20/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 18, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                 802.734.0617

Mayor Calls for Special Election to Fill Ward 7 City Council Seat on June 27, 2017

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger released the following statement regarding a Special Election for the Ward 7 City Council seat:

“On Saturday, April 8, 2017, City Councilor Tom Ayres submitted a letter of resignation to the City effective June 26, 2017 at the conclusion of the City Council meeting that evening. Councilor Ayres has taken a job as the new Executive Director of Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph, Vermont.

“Accordingly, after consulting with the City Attorney and the Clerk/Treasurer’s Office, pursuant to the Charter authority of the Mayor, I am calling a special election on June 27, 2017, the day after Councilor Ayres steps down. This will ensure there is no lapse in representation for the New North End and the voters of Ward 7 on the City Council.

“Petitions will be available for people interested in running for the Council seat beginning today, April 18, in the Clerk/Treasurer’s Office at City Hall. Completed petitions will need to be returned to the Clerk/Treasurer’s Office by 5:00pm on Monday, May 22, 2017.

“The polling location for the special election will be the Robert Miller Recreation Center from 7:00am – 7:00pm on Tuesday, June 27, 2017. Early voting will also begin at City Hall by June 1, 2017 from 8:00am – 4:30pm Monday through Friday.”

 

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Press Release Date: 
04/18/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 12, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

                 Abbie Tykocki
                 BTV Ignite
                 802-540-0948
                 director@btvignite.com
 

Mayor Miro Weinberger and BTV Ignite AnnounceNew Executive Director
Board Appoints Dennis Moynihan to Lead Acceleration of Burlington’s Technology Ecosystem
 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger and BTV Ignite partners today announced the appointment of Dennis Moynihan as the Executive Director of BTV Ignite, a non-profit dedicated to aligning Burlington’s powerful gigabit infrastructure as a tool, test bed, and accelerator for economic, educational, and community benefit. Moynihan will succeed Mike Schirling, who was selected by Governor Phil Scott to serve as Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development for the State of Vermont.

A native of Michigan, Moynihan most recently served as London Node Director for the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s Digital team, where he grew a significant innovation accelerator in London that focuses on the integration of education, research, and business by investing in research-based digital technologies concentrating on Europe’s strategic societal challenges.   

"I believe deeply that entrepreneurship and STEM education offer the most exciting future for local economic development,” said Moynihan. “Building on the momentum already created through BTV Ignite, I am convinced that Burlington will serve as a national example of how communities can thrive in this sometimes challenging digital age. I have been very impressed by the commitment, engagement, and passion I've seen here from such a wide range of stakeholders.  I am thrilled to have this opportunity to help us all take Burlington and neighboring communities forward, together."

Moynihan’s broad technical expertise in smart city initiatives, Internet of Things (IoT), and information security, as well as his prior experience in private, academic, and public roles, makes him uniquely qualified to head BTV Ignite. After several successful years in Europe, Moynihan is eager to return to the U.S. and promote community-level innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic development.

“Burlington’s strengthening tech ecosystem is developing a strong track record of innovation and opportunity,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “BTV Ignite represents the conscious effort of community stakeholders to capitalize on our outstanding gigabit infrastructure and many other local strengths to spur this effort forward. Dennis Moynihan’s background of innovation in the public, private, and academic spheres makes him uniquely positioned to support the efforts of all our partners as we seek to expand opportunities in Burlington for all our residents.”

“The BTV Ignite Board was impressed by the pool of talented applicants for the position of BTV Ignite Executive Director,” said Beth Anderson, BTV Ignite Board Vice Chair. “The Board believes Moynihan brings the right combination of skills and expertise to the role, and looks forward to his leadership as BTV Ignite works to grow Burlington’s tech and innovation infrastructure and economy.”

Jody Cole, Senior Vice President at People's United Bank, a new partner of BTV Ignite, spoke in support of Moynihan and the BTV Ignite mission. “We are so pleased to be a part of the BTV Ignite initiative for another year,” she said. “It has been a good partnership that has brought together private and public partners to grow the tech economy.”

Following a week of meeting with representatives of BTV Ignite’s core institutional partners, Moynihan will return to London briefly to hand off the reigns in his current position and is expected to begin his full-time work in Burlington in June.

Background
BTV Ignite is the Burlington, VT implementation of the US Ignite initiative. Originally announced in October 2013, BTV Ignite brings together public, business, and educational partners to help the Burlington community thrive in a 21st century digital world, leveraging its world-class gigabit internet infrastructure. 

BTV Ignite focuses on:

  • Accelerating entrepreneurial opportunities for Burlington and the wider community;
  • Attracting public and private investments for business growth and community enrichment;
  • Helping Burlington students and residents take advantage of opportunities in the areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), creative and digital industries, and digital arts;
  • Bringing together and building on the passion, creativity, and initiatives of Burlington’s academic, public, non-profit, and business organizations;
  • Leveraging and enhancing Burlington’s world-class digital infrastructure;
  • Shaping Burlington as a leading national example of how smaller communities can excel in a rapidly changing digital world;
  • Enhancing Burlington’s reputation as a great place to live, learn, and work. 

BTV Ignite exists because of the commitment and energy of our core funding partners representing a wide array of businesses and organizations including:

  • Burlington Electric Department
  • Burlington Telecom
  • Champlain College
  • City of Burlington
  • Institute for American Apprenticeship & Vermont HITEC
  • Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • People's United Bank
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Vermont Medical Center
  • Vermont Works

For more information and to engage with BTV Ignite, please see http://www.btvignite.com.

* Please see photo of Dennis Moynihan from the press conference

 

# # #

Press Release Date: 
04/12/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 3, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

Mayor Miro Weinberger Delivers 2017 State of the City Address
Reports State of the City is strong and advancing towards a brighter, increasingly dynamic and more just future

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today delivered the State of the City Address in City Hall’s Contois Auditorium, during which he reported that the State of the City is strong and advancing towards an even brighter, increasingly dynamic, and more just future. The Mayor was joined by the City Council, City Department Heads, other members of the dedicated City employee team, and community members.  

“Together with the City Council and the people of Burlington, this Administration is reclaiming the vision of Burlington as a vibrant, innovative, inclusive, affordable, sustainable and growing City,” said Mayor Weinberger. “The State of the City is strong and advancing towards an even brighter, increasingly dynamic, and more just future.”

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

  • Improving the character and quality of our public spaces
    • Opening a new park at the northern end of the Urban Reserve when the snow melts.
    • Continuing the historic rebuilding of our lakefront bike path this construction season, and breaking ground this summer on another new and unique lakefront park on the west side of the Water Plant.
       
  • Dramatically increasing investment in our roads and sidewalks
    • Making unprecedented investments in our streets and sidewalks in the season ahead, including doubling our road repaving and tripling our sidewalk rebuilding.
    • Finishing the creation of our Great Street standards, which will guide work in the public right of way for decades, and prepare us for the historic reconnection of St. Paul and Pine streets through the Burlington Town Center, as well as the 2018 rebuilding of lower St. Paul Street.
       
  • Expanding alternative transportation options
    • Bringing to the Council for adoption in April a new Walk/Bike Masterplan that creates a detailed road map for making pedestrians safer and replacing our current patchwork of bike lanes with a true transportation network of linked bike resources. 
       
  • Reducing our environmental footprint
    • Looking to fund electric buses in the year ahead, delivering benefits of the revolution to our transit riders.
    • Adding new EV charging stations and push whole-home energy efficiency, helping more Burlingtonians save money.
    • Piloting utility-scale energy storage that will make our grid more resilient, and make rooftop solar easier and cheaper to install.
    • Continuing to advance our district energy project with the goal of finding a cost-effective solution that will make a significant dent in our greenhouse gas emissions.
       
  • Making critical public safety enhancements
    • Adding three new sworn officers in July – increasing the size of the department for the first time in 15 years – with the plan to later add two more, increasing the number of sworn officers 5 percent by FY 19.
    • Funding new, specialized equipment and the professional education of a team of over a dozen officers so that by September, for the first time, our police will be able to respond to complex and sometimes dangerous mental health calls and other critical incidents with all of the proper tools and training to successfully resolve these situations with a minimized use of force.
    • Bringing to Council later this month an initiative to immediately and permanently add three firefighters to the department – also the first increase in capacity in 15 years. 
    • Providing voters in Burlington a chance to vote for a regional dispatch system next Town Meeting Day.
    • Continuing to fight the battle against the opioid epidemic on a regional basis as well, with more news on this front to come soon.
       

Please see the complete State of the City address below:

Good evening and welcome everyone to our wonderful, historic City Hall.

I want to say a special welcome and thank you to Mayor Frank Cain and his wife, Mary Jane, who have attended almost every one of my State of the City addresses.  Mayor Cain, you have been a great advisor, and your long-standing commitment to this community and your family is an inspiration.

And Mayor Peter Clavelle, it is great to have you and Betsy back in Burlington full-time.  Earlier today at the COTS Daystation ribbon-cutting, I used the scissors you gave me five years ago, and I expect to use them more in the future because of the campaign you co-chaired for our downtown redevelopment.  The fact that you served this City for longer than any other mayor speaks volumes about your commitment to Burlington, and you honor us by being here tonight.

General Steven Cray, thank you for joining us here tonight on behalf of the men and women of the Vermont National Guard, many of whom deployed this year. Thank you for your service, and for representing so well all the women and men under your command.

I would like to welcome Mary Danko, our Library Director, and Noelle MacKay, our Community and Economic Development Director, to their first State of the City address and ask them to rise – both Mary and Noelle have already contributed greatly to this community. 

Now, I would like to ask the entire talented and committed Department Director team to rise.  I am very grateful that I get to go to work every day with such a talented and enjoyable team.  Thank you for your service and unwavering commitment to Burlington!

I want to thank my mom, Ethel, and my dad, Michael, for being here tonight and for all the years of wisdom, adventure, and love you shared with me. And, of course, there is one special person who makes my job as Mayor possible – my wonderful wife, Stacy, is here tonight. Stacy, please stand for a moment. Stacy – thank you for your unwavering support, sacrifice, and love during the last five years. You are amazing! And, you have done so much, even as you also help lead the King Street Center and set education policy as a member of the State Board of Education, and as we together raise our daughters. I am so grateful for your love and partnership.

And, while they are not here this evening, I’d like to thank our daughters, Li Lin and Ada, for all their love and for challenging me to be a better dad and a better person.

Good evening to my colleagues, our distinguished and committed City Councilors. Thank you, Councilors, for your partnership and passion for Burlington. And, welcome Richard Deane – I am confident you will contribute a great deal to the City Council, just as you have contributed so much to Burlington throughout your life.

I am excited to begin another year of work in this room with all of you, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you tonight about the importance of our local work at a time of troubling federal retreat, the vision of Burlington that we are advancing toward, and specific goals for the year ahead.

I’d like to begin with a story – the story of Salah and Samya, a Burlington couple I recently met at their home.

Salah began life in Sudan, moved to Libya for his safety when he was very young, and then was forced to flee again when war began. He spent three years in terrible conditions in an Egyptian camp before being admitted to the US as a refugee and arriving in Burlington three and a half years ago with no family and no English. Now, Salah is fluent, works at Revision Eyewear, and has created a wonderful home in the Old North End.

Until about a month ago, however, Salah’s time in Burlington had been a period of separation from his wife, Samya. Fortunately, Samya, who is also from Sudan – one of the countries that President Trump has tried to block entry from – was admitted to America after years of effort in February, shortly after federal courts lifted the President’s travel ban.

Samya and Salah are with us tonight. Please rise. To you both, I say welcome – marhaban. Your story of perseverance is a reminder to all of us how fortunate we are to live in this safe and thriving community. Please join me in welcoming Samya and Salah to Burlington.

Tragically, very few other families will find refuge in our City in the months ahead. As part of the President’s actions against immigration, he virtually has ended the acceptance of international refugees through at least next September. As a country, our government is now explicitly turning its back and shutting its doors to the tired, the hungry, the poor, the talented, the innovative, and the hard-working refugees and immigrants, who for so long have helped make this country, and our City, the dynamic places they are today.

This policy change will have a profound impact on Burlington. For more than 30 years, Burlington has welcomed approximately 300 New Americans each year – immigration that has made us much more diverse and culturally rich, and has been part of Chittenden County’s economic success. Under the President’s executive order, the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program expects at most only 15 additional people through September, a period when we would have normally expected about 175 new arrivals.

This change represents a breathtaking departure from America’s traditional role in the world.  The beacon of opportunity and tolerance that has drawn Irish, French-Canadian, Vietnamese, Bosnian, Somali, Bhutanese-Nepali, Sudanese, and other immigrants to Burlington over hundreds of years has been shut off. 

This is morally wrong. If allowed to continue, we will undermine all that has made this nation great. We will fight – we must fight – to relight the beacon and, once again, make America a welcoming shore.

Of course, the retreat of the federal government from important areas of Burlington life does not end with immigration policy.  We are also witnessing the federal government’s abandonment of its role in cleaning up Lake Champlain and fighting climate change, funding the arts, improving American policing, and much more.

At a time when the federal government is trying to close doors and turn its back on our most pressing challenges, we here in Burlington must continue to work harder than ever to keep our doors open, and to keep advancing. Our local policies and initiatives – not fleeting federal edicts – will ultimately have the greatest impact on whether or not Burlington continues its historic role as Vermont’s city of opportunity for all. Our decisions in this room and on our local ballots will determine whether we remain a City where people of all backgrounds – long-time Burlingtonians and newcomers – are able to start a career, raise a family, grow a business, and enjoy our arts, parks, and culture. 

When we resist growth – when we reject this historic role as a dynamic, evolving City – we force the middle class, the poor, the young, and minorities out of Burlington.  As President Obama pointed out in the final months of his presidency, local government decisions that set up barriers to opportunity and investment have become a major driver of racial and economic inequality throughout our country.

Locally, the numbers show that is exactly what has been happening in Burlington for many years:  The average Burlington resident is now paying 44 percent of his or her income in rent, young households are being displaced by those that are wealthier and older, and sprawling growth in the suburbs has significantly outpaced the creation of new homes here in Vermont’s densest downtown. This sprawl has terrible social and environmental consequences, and has occurred despite the strong desires of many to live in our walkable, authentic, and culturally rich downtown.

However, that trend has now begun to change. Together this Council, the people of Burlington, and this Administration are reclaiming the vision of Burlington as a vibrant, innovative, inclusive, affordable, sustainable, and growing City.  After five years of work together, our municipal finances are better than they have been in many years and still improving; we are seeing major new investments in downtown homes and our innovative economy; we are moving rapidly to dramatically improve our public infrastructure and public spaces; we are showing the country and the world how small cities can be a major force for addressing climate change and reengineering American policing; and our commitment to protecting the most vulnerable is more robust than ever.  The State of the City is strong and advancing toward an even brighter, increasingly dynamic, and more just future.

This progress is only happening because a strong majority has voted again and again in recent years to advance toward this vision of Burlington’s future.  However, I know that some Burlingtonians also have questions about the changes we are pursuing, as well as the pace of change.  While change is inevitable no matter what we do, it is important that we listen carefully to these voices of concern, and manage the change in a manner that fulfills our long-held community ideals and values.  

In the year ahead, we will work to advance five major areas across the City: improving the character and quality of our public spaces; increasing investment in our roads and sidewalks; expanding alternative transportation options; reducing our environmental footprint; and making critical public safety enhancements.  Tonight, I will address our plans in each of these areas.

The public spaces where we gather for recreation and to advocate for important causes define us as a community.  Our recent era of parks renewal and expansion will continue in 2017.  When it finally stops snowing, we will open a new park at the northern end of the Urban Reserve, and Burlingtonians will enjoy the spectacular new alignment of the rebuilt bike path.  This summer, we plan to break ground on another new and unique lakefront park on the west side of the Water Plant, and continue the historic rebuilding of our bike path to the north.

In addition to our parks, our streets and sidewalks are also incredibly important places that host much of our public life.  In the season ahead, we will make unprecedented investments in this core public infrastructure.  Instead of repaving our normal two-and-a-half miles of roads, we will more than double that amount.  Instead of our usual mile of sidewalk rebuilding, our goal this summer is to triple that amount.

In the last year, we’ve seen progress in our transportation network with the opening of the long-awaited new transit center and the significant strengthening of our vehicle-for-hire system. This year, our work must also include upgrading our bike infrastructure.  After years of collaboration with many stakeholders, our Administration will bring to the Council for adoption this month a new Walk/Bike Master Plan that creates a detailed road map for making pedestrians safer and replacing our current patchwork of bike lanes with a true transportation network of linked bike resources.  I urge the Council to adopt the plan, so that we can start implementing it this summer, creating new protected linkages between the central and southern parts of the City.

Also, in 2017, we will finish the creation of our Great Street standards that will guide work in the public right of way for decades, and prepare for the historic reconnection of St. Paul and Pine streets through the Burlington Town Center, as well as the 2018 rebuilding of lower St. Paul Street, where we have seen so much new investment in recent years.

In all City investment, whether public or private, we must push for common sense zoning that promotes the dynamism of great public life – turning cold facades into welcoming storefronts, transforming chopped-up sidewalks into safe, engaging streetscapes, and building smart, green structures for all residents to live, work, and play.

For more than two years, our Administration, the Council, and the Planning Commission have worked on a form-based code to implement this vision in a way that the current ordinance will never achieve.  The new ordinance – planBTV: Downtown Code – will complement the Great Street standards in helping Burlington infill our downtown and waterfront with sustainable, livable, and beautiful design. It is time to get this done: I urge the Council and Planning Commission to finish their work and approve the new ordinance for my signature within 120 days.

This new code is an important part of fixing the broken housing market that is failing to serve so many, but we will not simply leave it to the market to ensure that Burlington is affordable to all.  In the year ahead, we will continue to build upon our long Burlington tradition of housing the most vulnerable.

Earlier today, as we cut the ribbon on the new COTS Daystation, Executive Director Rita Markley spoke beautifully about treating the homeless with respect and dignity, saying that the new building is a “place of refuge for the homeless where every detail, from the windows and the lighting, to the acoustics and the wooden finishes, even the water fountain and showers – everything has been designed to make them feel welcome and respected.”

With these inspiring words in our ears, we will build on this progress in the year ahead by again funding the Burlington Housing Trust Fund at almost twice its historic level, by fully enforcing for the first time the permanent affordability of units created by our long-standing Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance, by working to make sure that our low-barrier warming shelter – managed very effectively this year by Community Health Centers of Burlington – stays open next season. We will continue to support the Housing First strategies, spearheaded by the Burlington Housing Authority and Champlain Housing Trust, and supported by many partners, that have helped reduce the county’s homeless population by approximately 30 percent in recent years – a major accomplishment.

Getting our land use regulation and housing policies right will lower our climate footprint.  So will getting our energy policies right. 

The world is waking to an energy revolution, sparked by entrepreneurs, innovators, and the urgency of climate change. But as more technologies allowing customers to produce their own energy locally come to market, there is a risk that those least able to afford their heating and electric bills will end up shouldering more of the system costs. We cannot allow our renters and low-to-middle income homeowners – the vast majority of Burlingtonians – to be stuck with bigger bills and fewer chances to control their energy future.

Through our long history, we have valued the community benefit of running a municipal utility – the idea of providing every customer, regardless of income level, access to safe, reliable, sustainable power at an affordable cost. As Mayor, I have fought and will continue to fight to protect this basic tenet of public power.

I’m proud of the work that Burlington Electric has done to keep rates down under the outstanding leadership of General Manager Neale Lunderville– no rate increase in eight years and none in sight – while advancing energy innovation for its customers. This year, because Burlington sources 100 percent of its energy from renewable generation, Burlington Electric will save approximately $1.5 million by qualifying for an exemption from a state energy mandate.

As we look to the future – a future where Burlington is a net zero energy city, serving as a national role model for how to fight climate change – we are uniquely poised to take further advantage of the energy revolution. In the year ahead, we are looking to fund electric buses, delivering benefits of the revolution to our transit riders. We will add new EV charging stations and push whole-home energy efficiency, helping more Burlingtonians save more money. We will pilot utility-scale energy storage that will make our grid more resilient, and make rooftop solar easier and cheaper to install. And we are continuing to advance our district energy project with the goal of finding a cost-effective solution that will make a significant dent in our greenhouse gas emissions.

In the year ahead, we will build on our past success and keep pressing forward to ensure that every Burlingtonian benefits from the exciting energy changes that lie ahead.

I want to applaud the innovative and impactful work done by our public safety leaders, Chief Steven Locke and Chief Brandon del Pozo, as new chiefs over the last year.  Over the next year, we must continue to make new investments in and update our public safety efforts, with a continued focus on work that addresses racial disparities and the opioid crisis.

The increased number of foot and bike patrols last spring and summer had a huge, positive impact.  As of yesterday, with the change in the seasons, we have resumed these heightened patrols, but our existing resources constrain us.  We need more officers to fully implement the policing the people of Burlington want and deserve.  For years we have asked our officers to do more and more as they have responded to the dual crises of an opioid epidemic and a failing mental health system.  They have performed impressively, but it is time to get them the help they deserve.

The Administration’s Fiscal year 2018 budget will add three new sworn officers in July – increasing the size of the department for the first time in 15 years – and we plan to later add two more, increasing the number of sworn officers five percent by FY19.  In addition, the budget will include funding for new, specialized equipment and the professional education of a team of over a dozen officers. By September, for the first time, our police will be able to respond to complex and sometimes dangerous mental health calls and other critical incidents with all of the proper tools and training to successfully resolve these situations with a minimized use of force. To police this City the right way – building trust and legitimacy and stopping those that would harm the community – these are investments we must make.

Also, I intend to bring to the Council later this month an initiative to immediately and permanently add three firefighters to the department – also the first increase in capacity in 15 years.  Adding one firefighter per shift will dramatically decrease both our reliance on overtime to properly staff the Department, and the many times each year we are forced to order firefighters to cover shifts. This approach can lead to firefighters being on duty for 48 straight hours, which can negatively impact the health and family lives of our firefighters and degrade the quality of our emergency response.  More than two thirds of this new investment will be paid for by a reduction in the overtime costs the City has incurred for years as a result of our understaffing. 

I would like to note two things about these staffing increases.

First, I want to remind Burlingtonians that the total municipal tax rate has actually decreased for each of the last two years, and assure voters that again, for the fifth time in my six budget years, we will not be requesting a tax increase in FY18.

Second, the increase in firefighters is only happening now because of the data analytics program we began last fall under the leadership of our other new chief, Chief Innovation Officer Beth Anderson.  This is just one of many important successes of this initiative, which we call “BTV Stat,” that I will be speaking more about during the budgeting process.

In 2017, we will also continue to pursue regional public safety initiatives.  The threats to our safety do not respect municipal boundaries, and those boundaries should not weaken our response.

On this night one year ago, I joined other Chittenden County leaders in calling for a re-opening of the 60-year-old debate about whether we should create a regional fire and police dispatch system.  I asked Chief Locke to spearhead Burlington’s involvement in this effort and the findings of his working group are now clear: a regional system should save substantial public dollars over time, improve the quality of our emergency response, and, most stunningly, reduce response times an average of 1.5 minutes per 911 call.  I am committed to making sure that voters in Burlington will have a chance to vote for this impactful public safety improvement next Town Meeting Day, and I urge the leaders of other Chittenden County municipalities to stay committed to this course. In emergencies, seconds matter, and we will not be doing right by the people of Burlington and Chittenden County until we get this done.

We will continue to fight the battle against the opioid epidemic on a regional basis as well.  Since November, when the Administration launched our CommunityStat program, we have been meeting monthly in this room with dozens of non-profits, public health workers, police officers, prosecutors, and state officials – and two more times a month with neighboring departments – to galvanize a robust, coordinated response to this terrible epidemic that has become, over the last decade, the leading cause of accidental death in America and in the State of Vermont.

In the weeks ahead, you will hear more about new assessment partnerships, new ways of ensuring that those struggling with addiction get help when they are brought to the emergency room, and new protocols for pretrial treatment referrals. After 18 months of focused work with our treatment providers, the waiting list and waiting times at our Chittenden County Treatment Hub have dropped substantially, and there is reason to hope that when the new St. Albans Treatment Hub opens at the end of next month, we will finally have medically assisted treatment without delay.

Further, we need to remember that getting a person struggling with addiction into medically assisted treatment is only an early step in opioid recovery.  This means that thousands of people in and near Burlington will need help for years to come to recover from this terrible crisis.

We are finally starting to understand the full dimensions of this tragedy because of the bravery of those who have stepped forward to share their stories.  I want to welcome here tonight three brave women who have helped me to better understand this crisis over the last year. 

Amanda Clayton, an engineer at our airport, lost her brother to heroin last summer and has now set up a recovery group at the Turning Point Center for family members of addicts. 

Joyce Cameron came to a CommunityStat meeting and told the heart-wrenching story of how her son Will, a Charlotte resident, an athlete, and a recent UVM grad, suffered a fatal overdose after being over-prescribed painkillers by family doctors for his chronic pain related to athletic injuries.

And Alicia Sherman came to our opioid Town Hall Meeting two weeks ago and told her story of addiction and recovery.  She began her journey as a competitive athlete taking prescribed pain medication, bottomed out in a hospital bed for 90 days with a serious infection – which ironically gave her the break from opioid use she needed to escape – and has now been clean for three and a half years, is engaged, and working as a Client Services Supervisor and Account Manager in a downtown Burlington business.

Amanda, Joyce, Alicia – please stand. Thank you for your inspiration.

We need many more stories like Alicia’s, and we must end the tragedies that Joyce and Amanda have endured.  As a City and State we have to come to terms with the fact that although we have been focused on this epidemic for more than three years, we still have a long way to go to truly free Chittenden County and Vermont from the grip of the opioid crisis.  We need to act on many fronts with urgency, aware that many lives are hanging in the balance.  We need to stop more people from getting addicted, do much more to support the recovery of those already suffering from this terrible disease, and rebuild our responsible pain management infrastructure.  This will require investment, leadership, institutional change, and far greater involvement from those who profited from the opioid trade.  I will have a lot more to say about this in the year ahead as the City continues to confront the opioid crisis as our number one public safety threat.

This is a daunting challenge, but I am confident we will succeed.  My confidence is strengthened by the words of Sam Quinones, the author of Dreamland, who will be speaking in this room tomorrow night as part of the Mayor’s Book Group, who wrote:

“I believe more strongly than ever that the antidote to heroin is community.  If you want to keep kids off heroin, make sure people in your neighborhood do things together, in public, often.  Form your own Dreamland and break down those barriers that keep people isolated…. We don’t just sit around and take the beating.  We act.  Like Americans always have.”

A defining characteristic about Burlingtonians is that we show up.  We do things together.  We are a strong community.  In the year ahead, the City will act by continuing to invest in our public spaces, our public safety, and expanded opportunity to ensure that this beautiful City continues to be a wonderful community for all.

Completing our ambitious agenda will be challenging, however, this is what we do in Burlington. We have a long history of municipal activism that has resulted in us punching far above the weight class of a small city of 42,000 people.

And when we deliver on this agenda – which we will – Burlington will be a safer, more vibrant, more affordable, and more sustainable City for all who live, work, and visit this beautiful place.

Thank you.

 

# # #

Press Release Date: 
04/04/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 27, 2017
Contact: Gene Richards, 802.343.9909
                Katie Vane, 802.734.0617

                               

Moody’s Investors Service Improves Burlington International Airport Outlook to Positive
Affirms Airport’s “Baa3” credit rating, cites improved liquidity and debt service coverage ratios, newly signed Airline Agreement

 

Burlington, VT – On Friday, March 17, Moody’s Investors Service revised the Burlington International Airport outlook to positive and affirmed the Airport’s Baa3 credit rating (please see the complete ratings table below). In its Credit Report, Moody’s stated that “The positive outlook reflects ongoing improvement in the airport’s liquidity and debt service coverage ratios (DSCRs), in addition to a strengthened cost recovery framework following the recent adoption of a five-year residual airline agreement.”

“Of the many financial challenges the City faced when we hit bottom five years ago, turning around the Burlington International Airport was one of the toughest. We were faced with a changing industry, the ongoing impacts of a deep recession, a loss of Canadian travelers, and the aftermath of major financial mistakes made in the late 2000s,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “The Moody’s outlook upgrade is more evidence that the Airport has emerged from this dark storm stronger and more resilient than ever. I am very proud of the Airport management team and CAO’s Office, which have led this important progress for this key regional institution.”

“The positive outlook revision reflects the continued and sustained efforts to build financial stability, manage costs, complete signed five year agreements with both the airlines and car rental companies, build cash reserves, and achieve the Debt Coverage Score of 1.5x year after year,” said Gene Richards, Burlington International Airport Director of Aviation. “The credit for this significant accomplishment goes to the Burlington team, Rich Goodwin, Bob Rustin and Mayor Miro Weinberger.”

This year’s Moody’s Credit Report noted that the Airport achieved its strongest financial position of the last five years in Fiscal Year 2016, ending with 230 days’ cash on hand (up from the low of one day’s cash on hand in Fiscal Year 2010) and 1.59x DSCR, the ratio of net revenues available (which is operating net revenues less operating expenses) to pay for debt principal and interest.  Moody’s added that it expected the new Airline Agreement, which the Airport recently entered with all of its long-term carriers, would support improvement of financial metrics from these levels and mitigate risks related to the airport’s enplanements.

The new Agreement—the first in 20 years—is crucial to the financial and passenger stability of the Airport’s future, resolving a challenge noted by the Airport’s Rating Update by Moody’s Investor Service in December 2015: “An uncertainty provided by a month-to-month airline agreement.” The Agreement allows the Airport to approach larger reserves and positive debt coverage ratios for future improved credit ratings, as recommended by the Airport’s Rating Update by Moody’s Investor Service in December 2015, which indicated that a debt coverage ratio of 1.5x could make the rating go up; strengthens the Airport’s financial stability by partnering closely with airlines to ensure that any unexpected budget changes are covered in partnership with the airlines; focuses on the methodology for determining terminal rental rates and landing fees; and outlines the responsibilities and space needed by airlines.

Moody’s also cited the recent 12-year tax settlement with the City of South Burlington as a positive note to stabilize a significant expenditure.

Future actions that could lead to another rating upgrade:
 

  • Sustained enplanement growth
  • Net revenue DSCRs above 1.5x times on a sustained basis
  • Incremental improvement in liquidity on a path to 300 days cash on hand

 

*Please see the complete ratings table and Moody’s Credit Report

 

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Press Release Date: 
03/27/2017
City Department: 
Mayor's Office

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