Focusing On City Finances, Burlington Voters Pass Stability Bond

11/07/12 5:50PM By Kirk Carapezza
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VPR/Kirk Carapezza
Last summer, facing a downgrade in his city's finances, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger proposed a fiscal stability bond. On Election Day, voters supported it.

It's the morning after Election Day and the Democratic mayor of Vermont's largest city stands in his office, still glowing from the solid endorsement his administration got from voters who overwhelmingly approved a $9 million fiscal stability bond.

Weinberger and his staff worked hard to convince voters that supporting the bond was the right move for the city. He says it paid off.

"We went out and made our case to the city of Burlington that we need to do something about this and this is the best way to do it," Weinberger said. "I very much appreciate the support and confidence in people that they got behind this by more than 2-to-1."

With the public's authorization, the city will sell the bond on the market in the next three months.

"We're going to move as quickly as we can," Weinberger says. "The rate environment is great right now."

Like many American cities, Burlington is struggling to pay its bills. The city still has some serious issues: costs continue to rise faster than revenues; under-funded pensions loom over the city's operating budget; a lawsuit with Burlington Telecom remains unresolved.

In June, Moody's downgraded the city's finances - again - to slightly above junk bond status.

But the credit rating agency will be in the city later this week to assess finances at Burlington International Airport. And Weinberger says he hopes the agency will recognize that there's been a change in the city's financial plan.

On Election Day, voters across Vermont weighed in on a slew of local issues.

  • In Rutland, voters rejected a $5.5 million dollar water treatment plan to help the city meet new EPA drinking water standards.
  • Residents in Essex approved a bond to support a new police headquarters.
  • In Waterbury Village, voters decided to keep the village police department, even after the village merged its fire and public works departments with those of the town of Waterbury.
  • Burlington voters also approved Tuesday the legalization of pot. The non-binding question on the ballot asked city residents whether marijuana and hemp should be legalized, regulated and taxed.

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