BURLINGTON, Vt. – The balance of power on the Burlington City Council is on the ballot this Town Meeting Day, with 5 contested seats up for grabs.
As it stands, Progressives hold six seats, Democrats hold four, and Independents hold two. Three councilors are running for re-election unopposed.
Additionally, for the first time in three years, Burlington voters will see a request to hike taxes on Town Meeting Day.
Officials have said the proposed 5.5 percent increase to the general fund tax rate is due to the rising cost of healthcare and pensions for city employees.
Infrastructure will also be on the ballot. After voters struck down a $40 million infrastructure bond in December’s special election, they’ll weigh in on a $24 million plan that would help replace the city’s emergency communications system, buy three new fire trucks, and address deferred maintenance at ten city-owned buildings.
Last week, Mayor Miro Weinberger explained the changes in a sit-down interview for What Matters This Week with Lauren Maloney.
“We no longer are putting substantial dollars into Memorial Auditorium, that was a real concern for a number of voters,” Weinberger said. “We were essentially making that discretionary investment in Memorial Auditorium, $10 million, when we have this big question about our high school and how much that’s going to cost.”
Voters will also have their say on a $26 million project that wouldn’t increase taxes – an overhaul of six blocks in downtown Burlington that would include streetscape, stormwater, utility and transportation upgrades.
“Better facilities for pedestrians, more opportunities for outdoor eating, art,” Weinberger said. “We can do a better job controlling runoff into Lake Champlain and using the stormwater to make sure we have really healthy street trees, great landscaping on Main Street.”
And a proposed charter change would repeal old language in the city charter many view as demeaning to sex workers.
If passed by voters and approved by the Vermont Legislature, the following language would be removed:
Voters will also weigh in on a $98 million budget for the Burlington School District.