The Burlington Retirement Committee proposed critical reforms to Burlington’s Pension plan in late October. With pension liabilities growing faster than the tax base can cover them, the debt “threatens the heart of the city’s success,” according to Mayor Miro Weinberger. The committee’s recommendations include freezing taxpayer contributions for three years, restoring the system’s funding level to 85 percent within seven years, and sharing costs between employees and the city should the BERS (Burlington Employees Retirement System) fail to hit funding targets in a given year. Mayor Weinberger supports the proposed framework because it could end the steep rise in pension-related tax hikes that would impact business owners in Burlington, who would otherwise bear the brunt of the funding gap. The committee’s recommendations have been brought to the four municipal employee unions for collective bargaining talks to begin.
Conceptual plans for a considerable overhaul of the Burlington Town Center mall werereleased recently at a news conference with Mayor Miro Weinberger, Governor Peter Shumlin, BBA Executive Director Kelly Devine, and other officials. At the news conference Devine stated “The Burlington Town Center development will have a lasting, positive effect on the heart of Burlington and the entire community. The project would create expanded parking, new jobs, and additional retail opportunities that would bring significant direct and indirect economic benefits to Burlington.” Several other community organizations voiced their support of the redevelopment, including the Burlington Farmers’ Market, Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce, the Vermont Agency of Transportation and several City Councilors from surrounding Wards, among others.
In a public forum on the Downtown Burlington Parking changes late November, in which 50-60 area residents attended, feedback was given to the Public Works department. Desire for an interactive map outlining changes and discussion of a study on usage of residential parking areas were the main topics of the forum. Consultants in attendance presented findings from the study that office use drives parking demand during the week and retail drives demand on the weekends. The study also revealed pockets around Church street with over and under-utilized parking areas for residents. BBA member and local architect Richard Deane hoped that the findings will “help solve current issues about parking.” The revised parking fee structure is built to increase parking turnover. Burlington Public Works is inviting members of the public, as well as business owners, to share their feedback on the updated parking plan until December 14th.