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Following Budget Approval, Burlington Councilors Consider Redistricting And Tax Rates

Burlington City Hall
Pat Bradley/WAMC
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Burlington City Hall (file)

The Burlington, Vermont City Council passed the 2022 fiscal year budget during Monday night’s meeting.  There were a number of other items on the agenda including tax rates and redistricting.

Immediately following the unanimous vote approving Burlington’s 2022 budget, city councilors considered a resolution to adopt the city’s tax rate for fiscal year 2022.

Ward 6 Democrat Karen Paul moved the measure and then explained what it means for taxpayers. 

“The total municipal tax rate proposed is just a tad over 67 cents per $100 of assessed value on each property in the city," Paul said. "And usually it’s pretty easy to compare the increase or decrease from year to year. But due to reappraisal the tax rate is significantly less per hundred of assessed value. That’s not a reflection of a declining tax rate. It’s a reflection of the increased values.”

The resolution passed unanimously.

Councilors also considered a resolution to create an ad hoc committee for redistricting. Councilor Paul again moved the item. 

“Given the development that’s taken place in the city over 10 years you know it’s possible that we may need to redistrict," Paul said. "Given our last attempt at this process ten years ago this resolution was drafted in the hope that as a council we could design a collaborative process that incorporated citizen involvement.”

The council would use community feedback and findings in order for a mapping specialist to work with the city attorney to create new districts for ballot approval by Town Meeting Day 2022, in March.

East District Progressive Jack Hansen says the resolution looks at the shape and size of district maps and adjusting the structure of the city council. 

“The system we have now with overlapping district councilors that have twice as large of a constituency and twice as large of  a voting population kind of overlapping with two ward councilors I don’t think that’s a good system," Hansen said. "I think it’s confusing for voters to have that additional layer of representation. And I also think that it’s a fairness issue for councilors as well. Because you have the same level of power and the same amount of pay but a larger constituency to respond to as a district councilor. So I think that’s a reform that I’m going to be advocating for through this process.”

The resolution passed unanimously.

Councilors also unanimously passed an ordinance amendment that requires primary heating systems in all new building construction be non-fossil fuel based. Ward 5 Democrat Chip Mason explained that the measure recognizes 100 percent compliance is not possible. 

“So the definition of a system is 85 percent supported," Mason said. "It also recognizes that it is not economically feasible for some buildings to move forward so there is a waiver process built in to what we’re considering.”

Democratic Mayor Miro Weinberger also presented a pandemic after action report released following the expiration of the city’s state of emergency.

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