The Burlington City Council has approved the city’s roughly $79 million 2020 budget, but not before a new member of the panel attempted to delay the vote.
Burlington’s budget year begins July 1st. Monday the 2020 fiscal plan was before the city council for final approval. Democratic Mayor Miro Weinberger said one of the biggest investments is in infrastructure. “What may be most notable about this budget is not only does it continue the sustainable infrastructure plan we add to that the clean water resiliency investments that begin this year. We add to that the major investments at the airport and the Champlain Parkway. I think it’s likely that the capital investment that takes place in fiscal year 2020 will exceed any prior year in terms of total public infrastructure investment and that’s exciting.”
Ward 6 Democratic Councilor Karen Paul attended by phone, saying she feels the annual budget approval is their most important action. A member of the Finance Board, Paul calls the budget extremely forward thinking. “Our ability to fund community initiatives, pilot programs and address critical community needs for many of our most vulnerable would not be possible without a mindful eye on our fiscal stability and resiliency and a strong credit rating.”
East District Progressive Jack Hanson was sworn in at the beginning of April. He moved that action on the budget be delayed for a week. “For me as a new councilor and learning the process and wrapping my head around this document as we grapple with other issues as well I have a number of questions that have arisen more recently and for me to feel comfortable I would move to push it back, to be able to take some additional time to really make sure that we’re comfortable with all these items and that we’re able to get our questions answered.”
City Council President Kurt Wright: “Councilor Hanson did I just understand that you made the motion to delay the passage of the budget for one week?”
Hanson: “I would yeah I would like to postpone until next meeting.”
Councilor Joan Shannon, a South District Democrat, expressed concerns that delaying approval of the budget would bottleneck items planned for their next meeting. "I think we’ve all been new councilors. I’m concerned because at our next meeting I know in addition to what the mayor just mentioned I believe that there’s a UVM housing resolution coming forward, I believe that Councilor Dieng is bringing forward his diversity inclusion resolution. And I’m sure there are many other things that haven’t been mentioned and to kind of spring this on us at the on the council floor I’m a little shocked. I’ve been here for a while. I’ve never seen this before. If you didn’t want or weren’t prepared to vote on the budget I don’t really know how you just came to that realization right now here on the floor.”
Councilor Hanson responded: “In response to that I certainly am prepared to vote on the budget. What I was saying is that I would benefit from the ability to dig deeper into some of the questions that are unanswered. But I am prepared to vote on the budget of course if need be.”
The proposal to delay the budget vote failed on a tie vote.
The budget then passed 11 to 1 with Central District Progressive Perri Freeman casting the nay vote.
Audio is courtesy of Channel 17 Town Meeting Television.