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Burlington City Council passes FY2025 budget

Burlington City Hall
Pat Bradley
Burlington City Hall

The Burlington, Vermont City Council has passed the 2025 budget, one week before the city’s fiscal year begins.

The $107.8 million budget initially faced a $14 million gap that new Mayor Emma Mulvaney-Stanak reduced to $9 million. The Progressive said the budget resolution includes numerous priorities for Democrats and Progressives on the council and city residents.

“I am very proud of this budget. It is a budget that begins very important multiyear work ahead of us to right-size this government so we can sustain the city services in an affordable and strategic way for Burlington,” Mulvaney-Stanak declared. “It raises revenue in ways that keep affordability in mind. It is balanced. And this budget had a $14.2 million gap and I’m particularly proud of working with all of my department heads, city councilors and the community to close this gap while we also found additional resources to increase investments in community safety all within the first three months of my administration.”

During public comment, former city councilor Sharon Busher told current city representatives that this was the most important meeting of the year.

“The action that you take tonight sets the stage for our year and what services people get and the quality of life in Burlington,” Bushor said. “And I also wanted to acknowledge and thank the mayor for working with every councilor to try to get a budget that you all feel delivers the services that your constituents want.”

Chief Administrative Officer Katherine Schad said it has been one of the most challenging years to craft a budget as she provided a quick overview of the plan to councilors.

“We are coming in at just over $107 million. In terms of growth, that’s just about 7 percent and that is below the increases we’ve had over the past two years. So that is good news and that does seem to be putting us in the right direction,” explained Schad. “The expected municipal tax rate of about 83 cents that is an 8-cent increase, or just over 10 percent, from last year’s rate. That includes the 2-cent increase to police and fire tax that was approved by voters.”

Ward 2 Progressive Gene Bergman was pleased to see that the budget was created in a bipartisan manner with input from all concerned parties.

“This budget reminds me of the hardest budgets that I have seen over the years,” recalled Bergman. “The other aspect, affordability, is something that we absolutely need to address without going into the black hole of austerity. And I’m really happy that this budget does not do that.”

While councilors appreciated the work on the budget, there were some concerns. North District Independent Mark Barlow has disagreed with how the budget gap was calculated.

“Retirement and debt service increases should not be included because the increased expenses are covered by increased revenue triggered by automatic adjustments to those two tax rates. As a result, I believe the gap is overstated by $2.73 million or about 24 percent higher than it actually is,” Barlow asserted. “And my second comment is that I don’t think any of us at this table think that simply increasing the sworn officer count is all we need to do in Burlington to address our public safety crisis. And I also believe that the budget we have worked on together reflects that understanding.”

Councilors unanimously approved the plan. Also passed were resolutions that allow for the annual tax assessments and an increase in the city’s hotel and motel tax by one-half percent.

The Burlington City Council also approved the acceptance of a grant to help fund the replacement of the Leahy-Burlington International Airport’s North Concourse that will allow the airport to accommodate larger aircraft.

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