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Mayor’s Office

Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces Plan to Get City Finances in Order through Fiscal Stability Bond on November Ballot

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 27, 2012
Contact:  Mike Kanarick
                 802.735.7962

Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces Plan to Get City Finances in Order through Fiscal Stability Bond on November Ballot
Supports Bike Path Task Force Vision of a Rebuilt and Modernized Bike Path

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today announced a plan to take critical steps toward achieving greater fiscal stability in our City through a proposed November local ballot item.  His plan, shared with the public at a Mayor’s Office press conference, directly addresses the City’s deficit and the precarious financial situation currently facing Burlington by requesting City Council support that would place a $9 million fiscal stability bond on this November’s ballot for voter consideration.  Weinberger called on the City Council to unite in support of his plan as a time-sensitive and necessary step toward the fiscal security of Burlington.

“I ran for Mayor on the promise that my first priority would be to get our City’s finances in order, and this plan is the first major step toward reaching that goal,” said Weinberger.  “Now is the time for action to address what the auditor and credit rating agencies have identified as a top financial challenge.”

Weinberger was referring to the top recommendation by Burlington’s auditor in its most recent Management Letter, dated March 15, 2012, that our City take significant steps to eliminate deficit balances:

“We recommend that the City adopt a formal documented plan to improve cash flow and to eliminate the deficit general fund unassigned fund balance.  This will improve the financial condition of the City, and reduce the reliance on bank financing to meet normal cash flow requirements.”

Upon both City Council and voter approval, implementation of a fiscal stability bond, which authorizes no new spending, would be roughly the municipal equivalent of an individual refinancing a large amount of credit card debt into a stable mortgage at a time of historically low long-term interest rates.  With this replacement financing, the City would reduce the reliance on short-term financing with a disciplined budgeted and manageable approach.

“For too long, our City has relied on risky, short-term borrowing through Tax Anticipation Notes (TAN),” added interim Chief Administrative Officer Paul Sisson.  “Over-reliance on short-term credit markets is costly and leaves the City vulnerable to volatile shifts in the credit markets.”

In addition to the $9 million fiscal stability bond ballot item, Weinberger has requested City Council support for the following:

  • Authorization of the use of Waterfront Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to fund Bike Path Improvements, the Waterfront Access North project, and Cherry Street improvements; and
  • Authorization of a ½ cent tax for the improvement and maintenance of the Bike Path.
     

The Mayor, who recognizes the remarkable impact the Bike Path has on Burlington and who has expressed great public admiration for the work of the Bike Path Task Force, is seeking support for these two ballot items to ensure that the Task Force’s vision of a fully rebuilt Bike Path is realized in the next several years.

“As I’ve shared with my friends in the Bike Path community for many months now, I fully support the vision of a rebuilt bike path,” added Weinberger.  “The two ballot items that I’m announcing my support for today, plus the investment of modest, additional City capital sources, will fully fund the design, permitting, and construction effort for the next two plus years.”

Weinberger’s plan has received important public support from City Councilors and members of the community.

"I think the single most important issue facing our City is getting our short- and long-term financial house in order,” said Karen Paul, Ward 6 City Councilor.  “While I support the Bike Path initiatives, I have advocated strongly since first bringing forward the issues of our Audit that, if we are to address our financial challenges and our credit rating, we must first address the most significant deficiencies in our audit.  This bond will address our most serious deficiency and bring us one step closer to righting our financial ship.  I support the Mayor's approach to sound and prudent fiscal management."

“Today’s announcement by the Mayor is a promise fulfilled,” said Al Gobeille, owner of Gobeille Hospitality.  “He told us throughout his campaign that his priority would be putting the City’s finances in order, and I’m glad that he’s making good on that commitment.  As a major supporter of the Bike Path, I’m excited to see that the Mayor also believes in the full vision of a rebuilt Bike Path and is supporting two ballot initiatives that will get the new path underway and fully funded for the next two plus years.”
 

Please see the attached Local Ballot Items comprehensive document, the contents of which include:

  • Mayor’s Memo regarding November local ballot items
  • TIF Map
  • Fiscal Stability Bond ballot question resolution
  • Bike Path TIF Summary Memo
  • Bike Path TIF Cost Memo
  • Bike Path TIF Qualified Expenditure
  • Waterfront Access North TIF Summary Memo
  • Waterfront Access North TIF Cost Memo
  • Waterfront Access North TIF Qualified Expenditure
  • Cherry Street Improvements TIF Summary Memo
  • Cherry Street Improvements TIF Cost Memo
  • Cherry Street Improvements TIF Qualified Expenditure
  • Waterfront Access North TIF bond ballot question resolution
  • Bike Path Improvements & Maintenance ½ cent resolution
     

Also, please see the attached “Plan to Reduce Reliance on Short-term Financing and Improve Liquidity.”

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Press Release Date: 
08/27/2012
City Department: 
Mayor's Office