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Burlington City Council proposals face Town Meeting Day deadline

Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 5:27 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Time is running out for a host of charter change reforms pushed by Progressives on the Burlington City Council this year.

The deadline for the council to weigh in on proposed Town Meeting Day issues comes December 15th, giving them one more regular meeting to act.

There are four major issues the charter change committee is looking at:

  1. Shifting police oversight from the police chief
  2. Giving non-citizens the right to vote in local elections
  3. De-criminalizing sex work
  4. Increased stipend and benefits for city councilors

The police oversight issue has been a key priority for Progressives. The mayor last year vetoed a proposal to create an independent oversight body. The proposed charter would give the final say to a body other than the police chief.

Currently, councilors receive a stipend of $5,000 a year. Not only is the committee looking at raising that stipend, but also exploring other assistance to break down barriers to being a councilor. “If people were able to have health care for either themselves or their spouse or their family, they might not be able to not work full-time on the side and might have more of a balance with work,” said Councilor Jane Stromberg, P-Ward 8, one of three members who sit on the Charter Change Committee and spearheaded the council pay hike idea.

“It’s certainly possible that they’ll be able to get these through. We’ve been able to get other things through during this crunch time in the past, so I’m hopeful we will be able to get some things out of committee before the council and hopefully on the ballot for voters to weigh in on in March,” said City Council President Max Tracy, P-Ward 2.

Both Tracy and Stromberg say it’s been a very busy year for the council. Stromberg says it’s been hard finding time to flesh out the complex charter change topics but she hopes some will make it to the council floor by the deadline. “It’s just been a particularly hard season. This is something we definitely did not plan for. We obviously wanted to push these things through pretty quickly,” she said.

If approved by the full council, the measures could still be vetoed by the mayor. Any charter changes will also need approval by voters and the Vermont Legislature.

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