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Burlington City Council reviews a number of fiscal issues during its latest meeting

Burlington City Hall
Pat Bradley
Burlington City Hall

The Burlington, Vermont City Council reviewed a number of issues during its meeting Monday evening, from the potential sale of city property to the replacement of a bridge connecting Burlington and Winooski. WAMC North Country Bureau Pat Bradley reviews some of the meeting highlights.

This was the first full meeting of the city council since new councilors elected on Town Meeting Day were sworn in on April 1st. It began with an explanation of negotiations for the potential sale of city property at 200 Church Street before councilors entered executive session to further discuss the details.

When councilors returned to public session, Burlington Electric Department General Manager Darren Springer provided an overview of the department and an update on the city’s 2030 Net Zero Energy Roadmap.

“I know there are earnest concerns within public comment about wanting to make more progress. I share that,” Springer said. “But we’re actually here tonight having made some positive progress since 2022. Greenhouse gas emissions in the sectors we track are down 18.2 percent in 2023 relative to the 2018 baseline.”

The council also received a presentation from the Department of Public Works regarding its request that the city enter into a finance and maintenance agreement with the state to replace the Burlington-Winooski Bridge that connects the two cities. Public Works Director Chapin Spencer said it is one of two generational investments on the city’s agenda.

“The Winooski-Burlington Bridge is owned fifty-fifty by Winooski and Burlington and the state and federal partners could say that it is our responsibility only to make these investments,” Spencer noted. “I’m pleased to report that both the feds and the state are prepared to fund the majority of both of these projects, for without their participation there would be no viable way for our two communities to move forward.”

In mid-October the city council approved a six-month pilot Community Response Team within its Fire Department that dedicates a first response vehicle for suspected overdoses and unresponsive patients. Fire Chief Michael LaChance told councilors there has been a significant impact on overdose numbers and asked that funding be authorized to extend the program.

“What we’re looking for tonight is the ability to continue spending the money that was allocated for this program which ended on the 14th. We still have $48,213.65 available to us for continuation of the pilot,” LaChance told councilors. “We’re asking permission to continue this pilot through the end of the fiscal year.”

The council unanimously approved the extension.

During the mayor’s update to councilors, Progressive Emma Mulvaney-Stanak noted that there is a lot happening in the city and while she had a very warm reception during her inauguration, there have been challenges.

“On a little bit of a serious note I have received threats as the new mayor coming in. The day I started walking into this building and I continue to receive those and some of them have been unfortunately serious,” reported Mayor Mulvaney-Stanak. “I name that because this is important for folks to understand what women in office are facing, what queer folks are facing, and it’s happening here in Burlington. So I particularly want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s office, the state’s attorney’s office and the Community Justice Center and also some department heads who have been collaborating with figuring out how we create a safer environment for folks to serve and we’re working on procedures and safety mechanisms.”

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