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Burlington councilors postpone short-term rental decisions, hear reports on electric rates and discuss public safety

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

The Burlington, Vermont City Council reviewed a number of items at its regular meeting Monday evening. Among the items reviewed were electric rate changes, short-term rental rules and public safety.

The council had two items related to short-term rentals on its deliberative agenda. Ward 5 Democrat Ben Traverse made a motion to postpone consideration for two weeks.

“The Ordinance Committee met last week and I heard from councilors prior to this meeting that they would like additional time to review the changes made in Ordinance Committee regarding Short Term Rentals. This is understandable." Traverse explained. "The committee added some new elements to this discussion. It’s a involved piece of legislation and I’m happy to accommodate the request from my colleagues.”

Councilors also heard a presentation and discussed a request by Burlington Electric Department Manager Darren Springer for a 3.95 percent rate change for fiscal year 2023.

“In terms of what’s driving some of our upward pressure perhaps most significant is transmission costs, which is the cost that we pay essentially to be connected to the ISO New England grid," Springer said. "We’ve seen that cost rising over the last several years. It’s rising again in FY23.”

Councilors passed on an 8 to 3 vote an ordinance to implement Ranked Choice Voting for the election of city councilors. East District Progressive Jack Hanson noted that ranked choice voting was taken up in 2019 and voters approved the charter change but the state legislature removed the language.

“Now I’m proposing that we put this language into ordinance," Hanson said. "It is the same language and the substance is the same as what voters had approved in March of 2021.”

Discussion during General City Affairs focused on the most recent shooting in a park in the city’s Old North End. Shrapnel injured a nearby homeowner during the city’s 12th shooting this year.

Ward 2 Progressive Eugene Bergman, who represents the area, said his constituents are concerned about public safety.

“They are, I’m not going to use a foul language but I would," Bergman said. "They’re scared, you can fill in that last, that next word. And it’s just not right and it’s also not right that we’re continuing to get the ‘we don’t have the resources to deal with this’ as the response.”

The person hit and treated for a shrapnel wound to the back of his head was David Berezniak, who served on the city council from 2008 until 2012.

During the council meeting Mayor Miro Weinberger reiterated the contents of a statement he released earlier Monday noting that he and the city’s acting police chief will soon detail efforts to reduce gun violence.

“Gunfire incidents in Burlington are dangerous," the mayor said. "They are illegal and they are unacceptable. The individuals who are putting themselves and the public at risk through these reckless shootings should be on notice that the city is doing everything in its power to hold them accountable and to stop now. To fully protect the public from gun violence the BPD (Burlington Police Department) does need action from other law enforcement agencies, this body and state and federal lawmakers.”

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