Burlington, Vermont Mayor Miro Weinberger presented his 2022 budget plan to the city council on Monday.
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, a Democrat, is proposing an $87.3 million 2022 budget. “Following an historically challenging year in FY21 in which we experienced dramatic declines in revenues as a result of the pandemic it’s really quite exciting to be able to submit to you an FY22 budget for the upcoming fiscal year that is a full service budget with strategic new investments that represents also a step forward in our city’s recovery. The budget restores critical services. It makes important investments in infrastructure and builds upon our work to make our city more equitable and inclusive.”
Burlington has received $9.4 million of about $19.3 million in direct allocations from federal American Rescue Plan Act funds. Mayor Weinberger told councilors the final half of the funds is expected in about 12 months. “In addition the council will recall that Congressman Welch came at the end of March and reported that an additional $8 million that had been targeted for Chittenden County would be coming to the city. We are still awaiting final confirmation of that $8 million and the timing on when that will come. So of that potentially total of $27 million of ARPA funding the budget that we’ve presented for FY22 would commit would encumber approximately $10 million of that total.”
Action on the budget is not expected until the council’s next meeting on June 28th. Ward 4 Democrat Sarah Carpenter explained the general lack of comments following the mayor’s presentation. “We’ve had a lot of meetings and so I encourage the public either to go back and look at some of the previous finance committee meetings, some of the public input sessions, and just understand that there’s been lots of conversation. This is a sum of parts that has accumulated into the one budget the mayor is proposing. So we’ve had lots to say.”
Mayor Weinberger said there have been numerous meetings with the Board of Finance, significant councilor input and for the first time a budget survey to get input from residents. “In many ways I think we’ve gotten more feedback and engagement from the city council than I think any budget process that I can remember.”
East District Progressive Jack Hanson is excited with the result. “Overall I think there’s a lot that I’m really excited about in the budget and hopefully we can make a couple more tweaks as well.”
Vermont’s COVID-19 State of Emergency expires at midnight Tuesday. City Attorney Eileen Blackwood explained that means local governments no longer have the authority to hold remote meetings. “Both the League of Cities and Towns and the Secretary of State are advising all of the municipalities that they need to start coming back to some form of in-person meeting by Wednesday of this week.”
Chief Administrative Officer Katherine Schad laid out some of the questions that must be considered before councilors start in-person meetings. “Public forum: Would you like to continue to allow both people to participate remotely and in person? So how would you like the rules for that to work? Would councilors be able to participate remotely? And what about presenters? There’s a lot that we would like your feedback on.”
Councilors spent nearly an hour in a work session discussing strategies for returning to in-person meetings.