Burlington voters weigh in on bond votes Tuesday

Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 6:04 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 7, 2021 at 6:43 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Burlingtonians will head to the polls Tuesday to cast their votes in a rare, citywide special election.

As of Monday morning, nearly 5,500 people had cast their mail-in or drop-off ballots for the city’s infrastructure bond and Burlington Electric Department bond. That’s a small turnout compared to last year’s Town Meeting Day election which had more than 14,000 ballots cast.

I took to the streets to see how people are feeling about the two ballot questions.

“I think it’s really important to continue to support the growth and development of Burlington and not let it slide downhill,” said Tom Barritt, a Burlington voter.

Voters, some who have already cast their ballots early, weighed in on whether to borrow $40 million for infrastructure improvements, $10 million to renovate the shuttered Memorial Auditorium and another $30 million for a variety of projects such as roads, sidewalks and paths.

“Civic duty, I felt that it was the responsible thing to do and I was concerned about the streets and the sidewalks and infrastructure, I feel like we need to move ahead and update,” said Andrew Sigel, a Burlington voter.

“I voted no on both because our mayor spends the money on things that we don’t need and the things that we do need he doesn’t spend on,” said Barbara Wynroth, a Burlington voter.

According to Mayor Miro Weinberger, when the bond is fully drawn it will be on average $13 more a month for Burlington taxpayers.

“We should be in a place where we are spending about 70% of our maintenance dollars on proactive investments preventative maintenance and only 30% on fixing broken stuff. We are basically flipped right now, so if we don’t do these kinds of investments it does end up costing more in the long term, quite a bit more,” said Weinberger, D-Burlington.

Question two on the ballot is a $20 million bond for the Burlington Electric Department which will go to modernizing the grid, green energy incentive programs and long-term grid reliability.

BED says this will actually reduce rate pressures in the next few years.

“Reliability is their top priority. This investment will help us ensure that we have a very reliable power supply in Burlington, an electric grid, and it’s also something the community has told us they want to make progress on climate change,” said Darren Springer of BED.

These bond votes come nearly a year before Burlington taxpayers could be heading to the polls to weigh in on a school bond which would be one of the largest bonds in Burlington history.

However, Tuesday night the Burlington School board and district will meet to discuss the future of a new school after the state of Vermont quantified what they now believe to be a safe level of PCBs, a level significantly more relaxed than the levels which caused Burlington School District to leave their high school last year.

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