Mayor Miro Weinberger gave his state of the city address Monday night. The speech focused on the bottom line as finances have been at the forefront of the administration's focus for the past year. The mayor says fixing the City Hall money problems will continue to be the main goal in the coming year.
One year down, two to go, for Mayor Miro Weinberger's first time in public office.
"After a year of difficult choices and sacrifices we are now headed in the right direction with our finances improving, municipal projects moving, and the public's trust of governance growing once again," Weinberger said as he began his speech.
The mayor highlighted his administration's efforts to address the city's $16 million structural deficit-- touting taxpayers' support of a $9 million fiscal stability bond, but he admitted dealing with the Burlington Telecom debacle hasn't been easy.
"We will continue to diligently and patiently pursue a fair resolution of the lawsuit for Burlington taxpayers. BT's day-to-day operations continue to improve and we are now pursuing economic development opportunities made possible by the speed of BT's network," Weinberger said. Though he admitted little progress has been made on the city pension front since he took office last April.
"Employee equity and morale has eroded and we are at an historic low point in the solvency of the system."
Something his 2012 Republican challenger, Kurt Wright, criticizes.
"It was one of the high priorities of the administration and in a year we haven't seen too much action on that," Wright said.
In his address, Weinberger promised a new plan to fix the pension problem, but he stopped short of offering up a solution.
"I'm confident that as the city has proven with so many other challenges, that we will craft a solution if we all commit ourselves to finding one," Weinberger said.
The mayor hit on other projects making progress like the plan BTV downtown revitalization project, and initiatives to reinvigorate the downtown and city parks.
The crowd rose to its feet twice during his speech. The loudest applause came when Weinberger noted his efforts in the three-year, $3 million grant funded Partnership for Change, his effort to overhaul high school education.
"No institution is more important for creating a future with economic and social opportunity for all than our high school," he said.
Despite fulfilling some of his campaign promises for a "fresh start," Weinberger knows he and the Queen City have a long way to go. He says problems that have been building for over a decade will take more than a year to fix.
"Here in the unique community of Burlington, Vermont, more so than anywhere else, we are headed in the right direction and we have the energy, creativity, and commitment to get there."
Also of note at the Monday meeting-- a stalemate over who will become the City Council's next president. After three rounds of voting neither side would budge. Split down party lines, Democrats supported current president Joan Shannon while the Progressives and independents and Republicans are pulling for independent Karen Paul. Further voting has been postponed to the next meeting in two weeks.
Two other gubernatorial candidates shared the gazebo with Scott Milne and Gov. Peter Shumlin for Saturday's debate.