In State of the City, Weinberger rolls out new housing, opioid plans

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Mayor Miro Weinberger outlined his plans to combat the opioid epidemic, housing shortages and climate change in his State of the City address on Monday.

Weinberger also touted the recent settlement of litigation over Burlington Telecom and said some of the $7 million in taxpayer funds recovered in the deal will be used to eliminate next year’s planned property tax increase.

Some of the money will also go toward the city’s fleet of sidewalk plows. Weinberger said many of the plows are so old and worn that they were out of service for repairs ha;f the time this winter.

To continue addressing the opioid crisis in the region, Weinberger said that, starting Tuesday, social workers will screen people arrested by Burlington police for opioid-use disorder and offered immediate access to treatment.

“Like Vermont’s successful new program of providing treatment in prisons, this new, innovative initiative will ensure that the criminal justice system is doing all it can to bring this epidemic to an end,” Weinberger said. 

To address Burlington’s housing shortage, Mayor Weinberger proposed a long list of potential measures to be discussed at a May summit. Issues to be discussed include downtown parking policies, short-term rental policies and utility costs for renters.

“Our goal will be to deliver draft ordinances for these priority reforms to the Council for formal vetting and action by October,” he said.

Three first-term city councilors were also sworn in Monday night. Progressives Jack Hanson and Perri Freeman, who ousted incumbents Richard Deane (D) and Jane Knodell (I), took their seats along with Democrat Franklin Paulino, who defeated Kienan Christianson (P) to represent Burlington’s New North End.

Weinberger said he hopes everyone will continue to work togather. 

“Despite party differences, at this table we roll up our sleeves and find ways to reach consensus and get things done for the people of Burlington,” Weinberger said. “I want you all to know that I remain committed to this way of working together.”

The council voted unanimously to elect Kurt Wright, the body’s only Republican, to serve another year as City Council president.

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