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New England News

Burlington Mayor Gives State Of City Address As New City Council Seated

Burlington City Hall
WAMC/Pat Bradley
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A month after Town Meeting Day, Vermont’s largest city is getting back to business. Burlington leaders were sworn in last night and Mayor Miro Weinberger delivered his State of the City address.

Burlington’s city council and mayor were elected on Town Meeting Day March 3rd.

Democrat Miro Weinberger began his second term as mayor with his State of the City address. He outlined three themes: the long-term financial stewardship of the city; modernizing city government; and new initiatives to enhance affordability.

Mayor Weinberger says he’s pleased there has been success in reversing the city’s negative finances during his first term.  “It has been our highest priority to turn that around and just in the last few months you’ve really started to see concrete progress as a result of years of work. The resolution of the Burlington Telecom lawsuit was certainly a very substantial step forward. We have greatly improved our internal controls, so much so that we received a clean audit for the first time in years. All of this progress was summed up in the action that Moody’s took about a month ago where they for the first time in many years upgraded the city’s credit rating and they gave us a positive outlook for the future.”

Weinberger adds that having the city’s finances in order allows him to now move forward with new initiatives.  “It does allow us now to proactively work on new challenges. Longer term issues like resolving our pension problems, like this ten year capital plan which really tries to take a longer view of managing the city’s physical assets. It allows us to look at major social challenges that we face as a city as well.  Addressing our homelessness issue;  around insuring that all children in the community have a shot to lead full, healthy and  successful lives.”

The city council unanimously chose Progressive Jane Knodell as president. She finds the mayor’s priorities in line with the council’s.   “We have a lot of development issues, actually, on the plate. He didn’t actually refer to them as development issues. But definitely they are.  They range from how are we going to build more housing to address the affordable housing crisis?  What is our vision for redeveloping the Burlington Mall? We are poised for some significant private and public investment in Burlington and I think there are a variety of issues that will come up related to that.”

The former city council president was the same party as the mayor. This time it’s a Progressive leading the council, who has held the post before, with a Democrat in the mayor’s office. And it’s been reported that while cordial, they don’t always agree. Progressive Ward Two city councilor Max Tracy.   “I think it’s helpful to have someone who is not of the mayor’s party as council president if we’re really trying to reaffirm the notion of the council as an independent body that’s supposed to check mayoral authority, that kind of a thing. I think it’s helpful that person not be a Democrat.”

The city council is smaller than its predecessor by two councilors due to redistricting. It’s comprised of one Republican, two Independents, five Democrats and four Progressives.

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