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Burlington Councilors Unanimously Pass 2022 City Budget

The Black Lives Matter flag flies in front of Burlington City Hall
Pat Bradley/WAMC
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Burlington City Hall (file)

Burlington, Vermont city councilors unanimously passed a 2022 budget Monday night. There was little debate, with most praising the process to craft the fiscal plan.
Burlington’s fiscal year begins on July 1st and approval of the mayor’s proposed $87.3 million city budget was on Monday night’s agenda. Ward 6 Democrat Karen Paul moved to accept the budget and noted there were stark differences between the ‘21 and ‘22 budgets.  “This year’s budget stands in sharp contrast to last year. This year’s budget restores all city services to pre-pandemic levels. It invests in critical infrastructure. It builds on significant work already begun on racial equity and initiatives to address our climate emergency. It invests in our parks. It mandates that any employee not already receiving a livable wage shall be increased to meet the livable wage ordinance. And it will do all of this while minimizing tax increases through thoughtful ARPA funding usage.”

Ward 7 Independent Ali Dieng was pleased with several innovations the city implemented.  “And one of them is a participatory governing, ah budget participatory budgeting element that was added at this year’s budget. And I think too a survey to the community. I think also what need to be highlighted is the time in which the budget process started. It was key. It gave everyone time to dig into the details. I think the ongoing calls from both the mayor and CFO for the city councils to participate in the budget discussion I think that was an element that need to be highlighted.”

During public comments, former city councilor Sharon Busher said while overall the budget was crafted well, she had a number of concerns. “I had asked earlier to see if we could have restored the Housing Trust Fund using ARPA funds. But having learned that’s not possible I’m concerned still that the council and administration didn’t look to the unassigned fund balance to still accomplish that. The Housing Trust Fund is used to leverage millions of additional dollars that are needed for housing. The other thing I really applaud the thoughtful approach that was used for the ARPA funds. But I am concerned about how we will sustain those needs because ARPA funds are one time.”

In submitting his budget to the council, Mayor Miro Weinberger wrote it “takes meaningful steps toward our community’s highest priorities while continuing to carefully steward our taxpayer resources.”

The Democrat said he made most of his in depth comments two weeks ago when he presented the plan to councilors. He reiterated that the 2022 budget is like none other.  “A budget unlike any other that really the city I think has ever passed. Certainly very different than anything in the last 10 years.  Certainly a much more appealing budget that passed than the one that we passed in the teeth of the crisis. But this one was challenging in its own way. And it is certainly the administration’s intent to continue to use the budget survey tool. And in fact I think we can improve upon the survey from this first year’s effort. And we will be debriefing with the Board of Finance in the first quarter of next year about ways to further improve the budget processes.”

Progressive City Council President Max Tracy called a voice vote on the budget.  “Any further comments? Seeing none we’ll go to a vote. All those in favor of adopting the budget please say aye.”
(Councilors respond with ayes)
Tracy: “Any opposed? That carries unanimously.”

 

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