by Guy Page
Blaming pandemic-related challenges, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said Tuesday he wants state funding for the city’s new high school and technical center, public safety including hiring more cops, reducing homelessness, substance misuse and mental health problems, subsidizing public transportation, and more.
No specific dollar amount was attached to the request.
He also wants statewide legislation on firearms restrictions and climate change.
Burlington city government is already spending big on these problems, but more help is needed, he said.
“Like communities across Vermont and our nation, Burlington is facing numerous, serious challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Mayor Weinberger. “Our city is facing these challenges head-on with unprecedented investments, including creating a Special Assistant to End Homelessness, devoting millions of dollars of ARPA funds to housing and homelessness, adding numerous social workers to the police department, and by innovating a public health approach to homelessness with the Elmwood Emergency Shelter that is about to open. Burlington and other Vermont cities need similar, urgent action at the State level to address housing, public safety, homelessness, substance misuse, and mental health crises in our communities.”
The Mayor’s agenda also prioritizes funding for the new Burlington high school and technical center, climate action, and several public safety initiatives including several reforms to the state’s gun safety laws.
Weinberger added, “If the State will not give cities the ability to create gun safety regulations at the local level, it is long past time for statewide action. Burlington voters overwhelmingly approved measures to ban guns from bars and to require the safe storage of firearms. I will be advocating for these policies and more to keep Vermonters safe from the unique, American scourge of gun violence.”
Mayor Weinberger will be advocating for action in Montpelier on the following initiatives:
· State assistance for PCB remediation and regional technical center funding.
· State support for local efforts to address substantial statewide increases in violent crime and property crime, including; support for the recruitment and retention of police officers, modernization of shoplifting statutes, and increased funding of the Victims Compensation Fund.
It is unclear if Weinberger wants the Victims Compensation Fund to reimburse business owners for shoplifting losses, as suggested by Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George this summer.
· Statewide gun safety laws, including; requiring the safe storage of firearms, prohibiting guns in bars, restaurants, and other sensitive spaces, making reckless endangerment with a gun a felony, and funding gun violence research.
· State support for local efforts to address the housing shortage, including an Act 250 exemption for municipalities with robust local zoning controls that meet state standards.
· State funding for initiatives to end homelessness, including a plan for the end of the motel voucher program, new funding for permanent (non-time-limited) supportive housing services, and funding additional case management services for housing navigators.
· State action to address fentanyl and meth misuse and mental health needs, including providing specialized care for violent individuals, improving access to Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD), accelerating responses to growing methamphetamine use, expanding re-entry support for justice-involved individuals with substance use disorder, expanding residential treatment opportunities, including both long-term treatment and short-term treatment for fentanyl-addicted users entering MOUD, and removing barriers at the State level to the creation of Overdose Prevention Sites.
· State Action on Climate and Electrification by extending Act 151, strengthening the Renewable Energy Standard (RES), ensuring that any changes to the RES are analyzed fully and determined to be cost-effective for ratepayers, and by protecting Burlington’s authority to regulate thermal systems.
· Continued State funding for Green Mountain Transit and public transportation.
A complete agenda of the Mayor’s legislative priorities is available online here.
Much of the content above was sourced from a Burlington Mayor’s Office press release released today.