Burlington budget reverses police defunding, outspends State of Vermont on racial equity

The FY 23 Burlington budget includes $400K for a mental health crisis response team patterned after the CAHOOTS program in Eugene, Oregon.

The Burlington City Council last night approved a 2023 fiscal year budget that expands the police department by offering incentives and continues spending and programs on climate and racial diversity, according to a information released by Mayor Miro Weinberger.

Police Department Rebuilding Plan Investment

The budget would hire officers back to the 87-officer authorized cap of the Burlington Police Department. The police chief has set a goal to achieve 85 officers by July 1, 2025, through increasing our Police Academy class size by 50 percent, doubling the number of lateral hires, and improving our retention rates of current officers.

A three-year rebuilding plan allocates $1.2 million to keep current officers in the Police Department and attract new officers. This recruitment and retention plan incentives include: a competitive contract; signing bonuses; housing stipends to live in Burlington, education, and childcare.

The budget also spends more on other public safety personnel, including the number of the BPD’s Community Service Officers (CSOs) from 10 to 12 and doubles the number of Community Service Liaisons (CSLs) from 3 to 6. (CSOs perform foot patrols and respond to a variety of quality-of-life complaints. CSLs are social workers that work in the police department and focus on mental health issues, substance use disorder, and homelessness.)

The budget also reserves $400,000 for the creation of a Crisis Response Team Program inspired by the CAHOOTs program in Eugene, Oregon.

Net Zero Energy City and Climate Emergency Initiatives

The FY 23 budget continues the administration’s priority to invest toward our Net Zero Energy City goals, largely funded through Burlington Electric Department revenues, federal grants, and the Net Zero Energy Revenue Bond. These include: More than $2 million for customer strategic electrification incentives and programs, such as rebates for heat pumps, e-bike, e-mowers, and home charging stations; $1.5 million for energy efficiency incentives and programs; adding EV charging infrastructure and continuing to replace our City fleet with electric and hybrid vehicles.

Rebuilding Infrastructure

The City budget spends considerably on Burlington’s streets, sidewalks and transportation. With voters’ support of the Capital Infrastructure Bond on Town Meeting Day 2022, the City will continue addressing the backlog of work on streets and sidewalks. The FY 23 budget includes: $1.5 million of bike and pedestrian improvements; $1.6 million to rebuild three miles of sidewalks and resources to complete a new citywide sidewalk condition assessment so that the Department of Public Works can update its target for work moving forward; and $1.1 million to develop a shared use path on Intervale Road.

Racial Equity Inclusion and Belonging

Since creating the Racial Equity Inclusion and Belonging Department (REIB), the City has dramatically increased spending, making Burlington’s REIB department the most substantial in Vermont, and larger even than the State government’s office. FY 23 will have a $1.8 million budget. This budget will enable REIB to continue a range of programs, including: anti-racism training for all City employees; continue the tradition of hosting a Juneteenth celebration; and administration of BIPOC grant programs, including a $190,000 Empowerment Fund and an upcoming revolving loan fund using ARPA funds.

Property Tax Rates

In recognition of the challenging financial times many Burlington residents continue to face, the City budget maintains the General City tax rate at the same level as last year. As a result of a new state law, the education tax rate will decrease this year due to a $90 million surplus in the state’s education fund.

Other Council Action: Short Term Rental Ordinance

The City Council also passed, by an 8-2 vote, a Short-Term Rental Ordnance, which is the last of five key policy reforms that was proposed as part of Mayor Weinberger’s 2019 Housing Summit. The other policy reforms were increasing the Housing Trust Fund, eliminating parking minimums, upgrading our standards for energy efficiency in rental housing, and making it easier to build accessory dwelling units.

The final ordinance restricts short-term rentals to owner-occupied properties or in exchange for renting another unit at a below-market affordable rate. The ordinance will also impose a 9 percent short-term rental tax, a portion of which will go to the City’s Housing Trust Fund.

Categories: Burlington

11 replies »

  1. The Burlington City Council has set the police department and city back five years with its progressive and naive defund the police policies.

    In the past two years the Queen City as seen shootings skyrocket as thugs shot up the city making it unsafe for its citizens and visitors. Now it will take the police department three years to try to get back to where it was before the defunding the police policies.

    But the City Council has learned little from its gross past mistakes as it continues with it progressive policies that have done little to help the vast majority of Burlington residents…….When do the good people of Burlington say enough and demand common sense policies for the Burlington?

  2. How ridiculous. Anti-Racism training? This is more about how to teach City employees to identify situations/conditions when one can apply “racism” accusations! Essentially, to stop a discussion, a policy or some other common sense activity that offends Progressives. It’s the tool of Progressives to circumvent reasoning and other critical thinking skills. In the end, a tool to dumb down the citizenry. Burlington is beyond pathetic.

  3. Burlington, Burlington, Burlington where do you get these people on the City Council ??
    When will the taxpayers wake up to their nonsense agenda!!

    The only reason they passed the infrastructure bill was so they could have funds to paint
    more bicycle lanes, and flower pots on corners so trucks have a hard time cornering within
    the city, but don’t worry they still have potholes abound……

    This gaggle of fools defunding the police and putting its citizens in harm’s way, everyone
    of the council that voted to defund the police should be removed from the council as they
    have no interest in the safety of the citizens in Burlington but they do have this (REIB)
    board, and it is a joke and just another money pit for a non issue.

    • The answer to your question? Where did you get those people on the City Council?? Very simply put! YOU ELECTED THEM!! Even those of you who did not vote, contributed to their election, by not voting! That is where they came from!!

  4. Progressives are followers, not leaders, leaders can think for themselves and base their decision on common sense not what other idiots are doing, they follow what’s currently happening and do the same. God forbid if they actually thought something through.

  5. Looks like Burlington leaders didn’t read this op-ed 2 years ago. It was ludicrous in a time when crime rates are rising to listen to defund the police messaging. Police and sheriffs are a vital piece of law and order. VT Digger refused to print this because it didn’t agree with their agenda. Thankfully other editors did.



    Open Letter to Police and Sheriffs & Comments on BLM

    THANK YOU!!! Not only have you been on the front lines with Covid, but now rallies want to dismantle you. Black Lives Do Matter. Police Lives Matter. Our own liberty & justice matters, too.

    Our nation aspires to liberty & justice for all; that comes with a price. It needs muscle to uphold this. Dismantling the police is a rally cry that should make everyone take note of who wants to strip us of our freedoms. Who would protect us from crimes, and seek to bring the unlawful to justice on our behalf? Agreed, in some settings there are places that need some cleaning. Thankfully, there’s not much of that in Vermont. We should toot our horns.
    Do you know that 247wallst.com, who yearly monitors statistics, portrays Vermont as:

    > Percent black residents: 0.9% (3rd lowest)
    > Black homeownership rate: 24.6% (9th lowest)
    > Black incarceration rate: 2,214 per 100,000 (19th lowest)
    This means only 2 states have a lower percentage of black residents, only 8 states have a higher rate of black home ownership, and only 18 states have lower incarceration rates.

    Vermont is the only state with a larger share of African American adults having graduated from college than white adults. Of African American adults 37.0% have at least a bachelor’s degree — the highest share of any state — higher than the 35.1% of white residents with similar attainments.

    The difference in incomes between white and black residents is the smallest in the country. In Vermont African American families earn $50,933 annually, the third most of any state, about $4,000 less than the state’s typical white household. Nationally the income gap between white and black Americans is roughly $24,000.

    Vermont is one of two states that allows citizens incarcerated on a felony charge to vote while in prison. Vermont therefore ffectively has no legally disenfranchised black Americans; nationwide, one in every 13 African Americans is disenfranchised.

    Black Lives do Matter. My father was at the MLK I Have a Dream speech in a time when these needs were much greater. There’s not a lot of need to fund inquiries into injustices here in Vermont. Perhaps Vermont should channel some BLM funding to promote awareness of our ethnic diversity and give honor to great civic leaders of all races that have sought to promote Freedom & Unity, Liberty & Justice.

    Thank you Vermont Police & Sheriffs for being our front lines for Covid 19, for monitoring peaceful BLM rallies, and for many years of protecting our Freedom. May you know our united support and gratitude.


    God Bless America

    • The home ownership issue is a specious argument. It is ludicrous. Taking a drive around any backroads in Vermont, say 25-40 miles will reveal the wretched nature of much of the housing owned by poor/working class White people in VT.

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