Funds will support urgent eligible needs; public health response, economic impacts, and water resources
Vermont Business Magazine Last night, the Burlington City Council unanimously approved the Administration’s proposal for the immediate release of $1,795,000 from the City’s outstanding $27 million American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation.
“We must carefully steward this incredible, one time investment of federal funds and ensure that Burlington not only remains one of the safest cities in the nation, but is also positioned to lead the economic recovery ahead for Vermont and the region,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger.
The $1.795 million in funds are urgently needed to support a variety of eligible expenses to address ongoing public health response, water resources investments, and economic impacts of the citywide reappraisal on some homeowners, including:
Public Health Response – $685,000
· Wastewater Testing Program: The City will extend the current weekly testing program with its vendor for Sars-Cov-2, variants and the flu/RSV, as well as other public health indictors, until the end of June 2022.
· Mask purchasing: To support participant safety at the City’s public meetings, the City will purchase approximately 50,000 masks.
· Air purifiers & replacement filters: The City will purchase several additional air purifiers for high traffic locations within public buildings.
· City employee Covid testing kits: Beginning October 11, all City Employees will be required to be vaccinated
, or submit a negative COVID-19 test result on a weekly basis.
· City employee Covid vaccination bonus: The Administration committed to providing $100 bonus to employees who are fully vaccinated by October 11.
· Ongoing vaccination support: Community partners like the Association of Africans Living in Vermont, the VT Professionals of Color Network, USCRI VT, the Black Perspective, the Racial Justice Alliance, and UVM’s LEND Program will continue to be absolutely crucial partners as we look ahead to the possible approval of COVID-19 vaccines for children under 12
, and the potential for third dose “booster” shots.
· COVID-19 screening, testing, PPE resources for Long Term Care facilities: Long Term Care facilities in Burlington continue to share needs with the Administration for resources to manage staff testing, monitor visitors, and comply with other health guidance or requirements. In absence of state funding, City support could take the form of grants to support needs of Long-term Care and Senior Day Facilities.
· Ventilation improvements at 200 Church Street: Urgent ventilation upgrades are necessary to ensure a safe work environment and to combat transmission risk.
Citywide property tax credit lag relief – $250,000
The State-mandated, Citywide property reappraisal has led to an increase in the property tax burden of many homeowners in the City of Burlington. Approximately 70% of Burlington homeowners qualify for a property tax credit from the State of Vermont. The State acknowledges a lag or lookback in this process, and the City has consulted with the State of Vermont Tax Department to ensure that a City relief grant program targets those who are affected by the lag – that is, those who have a primary home whose value went up 40% or more in the reappraisal and are also eligible for the property tax credit, and who meet the same criteria around Covid as the Vermont Housing Finance Agency’s forthcoming Vermont Homeowner Assistance Program.
Water, Wastewater, and Stormwater – $860,000
The Department of Public Works will deploy ARPA funding for renewal of the City’s water, wastewater and stormwater mains and the City portion (50%) of the water service line in the Right of Way on University Place. This will ensure coordination of upcoming University Place reinvestment in City infrastructure, protect the critical high service water mains around the UVM Medical Center, and spur UVM to simultaneously address problem utility services to their buildings.
"Since the initial FY22 budget allocation, we have confirmed that an additional $9 million of county funds will be coming to Burlington, giving us the ability to fund these urgent initiatives, and continue to have $15 million of ARPA funds for priority investments that we will be engaging the community about in the months ahead,” said Kara Alnasrawi, the City’s Economic Recovery Director.
Mayor Weinberger has also instructed the Economic Recovery Director and her team to create a public engagement plan around the investment of the City’s remaining ARPA funds. The Economic Recovery Team has studied the US Treasury Interim Final Rule, the subsequent Treasury FAQs, consulted with local legal experts to clarify interpretations, researched how other municipalities plan to use funds, and carefully monitored state and federal programs to avoid redundancies. The next steps in the public engagement process will include:
· Convening an internal ARPA Task Force, including members of REIB, CEDO, and the City’s COVID Response Leader to assist in reviewing potential projects and creating a survey to encourage public participation.
· Conducting a community survey that will be translated into 8 languages, and mobilize volunteers to solicit responses from a broad section of the population.
· Hosting a town hall to provide the community with the chance to give more additional input.
Source: 9.14.2021 Burlington. Office of Mayor Miro Weinberger