My Turn: Let’s keep Burlington moving forward
Despite tough economic times there is much that Burlington can be proud of. Our economy is stronger and more resilient than many cities across the country. The city continues to thrive in many ways and we are well-positioned to weather the current economic situation. We have an engaged citizenry, an active and responsible for-profit and non-profit business sector, and an invaluable sense of community. But Burlington will face significant challenges over the next three years. Residents are concerned about their jobs, families and the economic vitality of the city. In these uncertain times we need steady and proven leadership to keep us moving forward.
As mayor, I get results for the people of Burlington. My record speaks for itself. Burlington added 1,113 jobs from the second quarter in 2006 to the second quarter in 2008, while the rest of Vermont lost 1,382 jobs. Burlington’s total wages increased 17.9 percent in the same time period, compared to 6.3 percent for all of Vermont.
For the past two years we’ve balanced the budget with no general fund tax increase. The local option tax and fee for service bring new revenues to the city. The city’s cash reserves have never been higher and the city’s high Aa bond rating has been maintained even with budgetary challenges.
We have a redevelopment plan for the Moran Plant supported by two-thirds of Burlington voters that will create 80 jobs and bring new tax revenues to the city. City negotiations helped bring a new downtown hotel to Burlington, which will boost jobs and tourism. The city has helped companies locate, grow or thrive here, including Dealer.com, Burton, Gardener’s Supply, Seventh Generation, Select Design, Magic Hat and Lake Champlain Chocolates.
We’re actively working on a Quadricentennial celebration this July that will be a major cultural event and festival, bringing tens of thousands of visitors and a broad variety of musical acts, art, shows and other performances to Burlington.
We also forever preserved land in Burlington’s Intervale for agriculture and recreation. We are in the process of rewriting the city’s Climate Action Plan with aggressive goals to reduce our carbon footprint, and we developed a comprehensive new stormwater ordinance to protect Lake Champlain. We’ve paid special attention to the city’s infrastructure needs, streets, and sidewalks. We recognized that deferred maintenance results in future costs to taxpayers. We established citizen committees so that residents can be involved in government decision-making and also have the opportunity to learn how the city works.
I’ve done this in partnership with a team of skilled department heads and committed city staff, and numerous community members, organizations, and area businesses. We’ve achieved these accomplishments and more while always remembering that government must, at its core, meet people’s needs.
Burlington receives national recognition for its business climate, entrepreneurial spirit, fast growing small businesses, environmental and sustainability initiatives, commitment to arts and culture, and quality of life. Burlingtonians are talented, hard-working, resourceful, and very proud of this great city by the Lake. Working together we can keep Burlington moving forward without leaving anyone behind. We’ve got a great record over the past three years. Now is not the time to lose ground.