burlington sales tax

Jan 3, 2005 – City Council Meeting

7PM, Contois Auditorium, City Hall. City Council meeting. On the agenda is a discussion of city sales tax and Moran Plant/ YMCA discussion (view project discussion) regarding March vote, so far.

Meeting Minutes

(Next Meeting January 18th)

*Councilor missing: Ellie Blais, Ward 7
Councilor late: Cheryl McDonough, Ward 2

General City Affairs:

  • Councilor Russ Ellis (Ward 4): New North End Youth center
  • 73% of Hunt MS Students’ parents both work
  • 63% of 6th-8th graders are alone from 6-8PM
  • Mayor Peter Clavelle: Turner property (off of East Ave) development; Fundraiser on the 16th for Tsunami victims; June 17th 3PM-7PM Taxes done for free, must be under $35,500 yearly income to qualify for the free tax filing

Presentation by Burlington High School Principal about Athetic Complex

  • Current place is not acceptable: 42 year old structure with drainage problems, sewage problems, cannot use fertilizer because of the proximity to the lake, has had to turn down youth programs because of the degenerative condition of the field, persons with disabilities unable to use the location as it is, if there is an emergency on the field, there’s a delay in response because of the current layout
  • The new facility would be used by the school, as well as the public, which would help the parks and recreation department
  • The school board will go into more specifics at their next meeting on Jan. 11th
  • Principal would like to see the complex on the ballot in March; there would be enough
    time for the school board to specify things & for council to hear for ballot vote
  • Councilor O’Sullivan (Ward 7) Believes high school students should not be driving around

Public Forum:

  • New North End Youth Center:

    • Jen: Easy access from Hunt MS, quality of programs are great; keep youth center where it currently is
    • Beth: Youth center encourages the parks and recreation; would like youth center to partner with parks & rec to check about the Gosse Ct armory location

  • Ending war in Iraq:

    • Paul, Peter, Shiela (Burlington’s Anti-war coalition): resistance is growing in Iraq, troops should be withdrawn, supports the resolution, put to vote in March
    • Nancy: a possible public forum should be established for the resolution
    • (Councilor Montroll of Ward 6 grimaces at the remark)

Moran redevelopment:

  • Ethan: will not serve the needs of the whole city; there should be changes at Leddy park, Memorial Auditorium, or the Gosse Ct Armory
  • Kurt Wright/Maurice Mahoney: Moran infrastructure and the lease term should appear on the ballot

Property Reappraisal presentation:

  • Overall property taxes will increase
  • Tax relief will happen through the proposed sales tax and rebate programs
  • The reappraisals will be completed by the end of January
  • Results of the reappraisal would be released in mid-April
  • Public hearings about reappraisals from April 22 – May 17th
  • Appeal Hearings board (Assessors) from May 26 – June 11th
  • Tax bills (with new reappraisals) mailed July 12th
  • Appeal Hearings board (Tax appeals) from August to November
  • Tax burden will shift from commercial to residential and commercial apartments
  • Tax rates still dependent on final grand list, result of the sales tax, PILOT (Burlington), City budget spending levels, and the per pupil cost levels of the school board
  • Municpal tax rate increased
  • Tax relief programs: target the fixed/lower income and senior citizens, possible renter rebate program

Sales Tax:

  • $2,550,000 would be raised from the sales tax (before sharing occurs)
  • Carleton: Why not lower the rates?
  • City needs more money; some of the rates are fixed by the charter (ie Library);
  • General tax rate of around 38% is designated by the charter as well; the reappraisal is not the only thing increasing the taxes: example- grand list
  • Ellis: Are the market values of the residential properties more than the commercial properties? Yes
  • Shannon: Could there be different tax rates for the commercial and residential? No, they are taxed at the same rate, which is fixed in the city charter
  • O’Sullivan: What is the PILOT program? The burlington-based program, not Vermont; incorporates the electric, water, and wastewater; treated as commercial properties, therefore their proportiaon of rate will go down; will lose 700,000 in the municipal budget – council could adjust the rate so money is not lost (as was done in 1994)
  • Ashe: Could the ratio be raised from 100 to 120? The ratio would have to be raised to 137 to make up for the loss in the budget

-Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) to Elect mayor:

  • Problem with the time difference between council approving the IRV and the mayoral elections; IRV will go to the proper committee to determine how to proceed, two public hearings are required to put it in place and then council meeting on Jan 15th, 2005

Public hearings: January 14th at noon and January 18th at the City council meeting

Sales Tax:

  • Clavelle: It would reduce the growth of the property tax; it’s not just a Burlington issue (ie Williston); voters in the past have said they want alternatives to the
    property taxes; there would be an increase in taxes for the middle income home owners and middle income renters of Burlington (ie 20% increase in property tax)

Burlington Electric Borrowing Increase

  • Curley: Burington Electric Department’s borrowing hasn’t kept up with inflation
  • Ellis: Why borrow more money? Increase of cost of improvements to the city facilities (ie Electric dept), maintenance of the city buildings (ie Leddy, memorial), and deferred problems of the existing facilities
  • Bushor: The sales tax will not increase the debt over the long run
  • Passed: 13 votes yes, 1 vote opposed (Curley)

*Councilor Curley leaves

Iraq resolution:

  • Fiermonte: Would like to see it on the ballot in march, and re-wording done on 18th
  • Bushor: Wants to know how citizens feel about the war; it’s more for the community, not for the president
  • Carleton: Would like it to be re-worded in committee
  • Perry: Cannot do anything to further hurt those in our community already in pain (ie families of those overseas, or those killed overseas)
  • O’Sullivan: Would support the subcommittee for the re-wording
  • Ellis: would like all of the ballot questions in a one sentence, not a paragraph

Meeting Adjourned 10:30PM

Jan 18, 2005 – City Council Meeting

7PM, Contois Auditorium, City Hall. On the agenda is a discussion of Instant Runoff Voting, BHS Athletic Complex, city’s 1% sales tax, Moran Plant/ YMCA discussion (view project discussion) regarding March vote, so far.

Meeting Minutes

(Next Meeting February 7th)

*Councilors missing: Cheryl McDonough, Ward 2 and Jean O’Sullivan, Ward 7

General City Affairs:

  • Councilor Curley moves #19-23 to be removed from the agenda because of the time constraints
  • Councilor Keogh mentions something about a City councilor polo shirt design?
  • Mayor Clavelle: was in D.C. over the Martin Luther King weekend:

    • Community Development block grant program funds may be cut back
    • Greater Burlington may be forming a grassroots relationship with the Tsunami affected areas

Committee Reports:

  • Community Development and Neighborhood Revitalization: Meeting Jan 19th covering vehicular noise and possibly University place
  • Ordinance: Zoning committee isn’t prepared for their work; Smoking ban; outsourcing of jobs

Public Hearing:

  • Instant Runoff Voting:

    • Terry (Blue Ribbon commission)- a waste of money (ie French election); suggests 2 changes to the charter language: -more than 2 candidates for the write in option -shorter language
      (if there is no majority winner, then the votes will be retabulated)
    • Michael McGargin: voters should be allowed to discuss the items more, and it the Iraq resolution has been discussed more than the IRV has, the public is not informed

  • Sales Tax

    • Nancy Wood (Burlington Business Association) they have no official position board meeting on the sales tax; what does the tax mean to the retailers? retailers paying 120% and bars paying the gross tax rate already; what is the hope for the future of Burlington? If Winooski and other surrounding cities had a similar tax, it would help to lessen the proposed tax burden
    • Dawn Francis (LC Chamber) they still need to review the tax in order to make a decision
    • Alan Sousie – any tax is a burden; increase of property and school tax upcoming should include the property tax relief with the wording of the ballot item; the older population of Burlington is on the rise, how would it affect them? State all the detailes and as clearly as possible
    • Vincent Downing – paying enough taxes as it is already

  • Increase in Borrowing authority for the City and Burlington Electric

    • City and the Electric Department issue has no public comments

Action on the Public Hearing:

  • IRV:

    • Councilor Shannon: This was intended to elect persons that people want in office, perhaps sample ballots would help the confusion
    • Councilor Blais: Still confused about how the IRV works (was explained over 5 minutes)
    • Councilor Bushor: Voters should understand how it works; would like the question to be shorter

  • Sales tax:

    • Bushor: How would the money generated from the tax be used if passed? (Would support the measure because most of the sales are from non-residents)

      • It would be applied toward property tax relief

  • Parks and Recreation funding:

    • Gosse court armory revitalization in the upcoming weeks for the New North End Youth center and Leddy Park redevelopments

    *Mayor Clavelle: City will have paid the debt off by 2007

Presentations by Burlington School Department:

  • Superintendent Lyman Amsden regarding School Department Budget
  • Burlington High School Steering Committee regarding Athletic Facility plan

Public Comment on School Items:

  • Joe Delaney (President of the BHS Boosters) -comprised of 15-20 parents, but over 100 contribute to the organization; Contributed $20,000 for the systems at Leddy Park, but this year only have a budget of $30,000
  • Michael McGargin: poor wording of the current question on the ballot item; 85% of the budget is set for the staff; school board also increased the tax for capital improvements without letting the city know
  • Dennis (Director of Youth and Community Empowerment) new organization in Burlington, supports the complex

Public Comment on Moran and Iraq ballot items:

  • Maurice Mahoney: Council members should exclude themselves from the vote if they are members of the YMCA; let the city decide whether or not the YMCA should be there
  • Burlington Anti-war Coalition members: Voters haven’t had a say in the war, let their voices be heard

Items of interest not discussed thoroughly by Council:

**In the proposed amendments to the agenda made by Lori Olberg, Administrative Assistant, consent agenda item #25.12 RESOLUTION: Authorization for Water Tower/Land Lease Agreement (Board of Finance) with the consent action to “waive the reading and adopt the resolution.” (per City Attorney McNeil)

**Ward Three Clerk, Jason Baker, Ward One Inspector of Election, Jessica Oski, and Ward Five School Commissioner, Marissa Caldwell, are all resigning

Meeting Adjourned 11 PM

Feb 7, 2005 – City Council Meeting

7PM, Contois AuditoriumBurlington City Council Meeting – Discussion of Manhattan Pizza, City Smoking Ban applying to private clubs, Legislative intent for FY 2006 of the Proposed 1% sales tax

(Next Meeting February 22nd)

*Councilor missing: Cheryl McDonough, Ward 2
Councilor late: Jean O’Sullivan, Ward 7

Local Control Commission:

  • Councilor Keogh reports a 3 hour hearing with 7 witnesses regarding Manhattan Pizza(Who reportedly over-served a patron alcohol, then a pool cue was used in a fight)**Manhattan Pizza meeting in recess 7:37PM until Executive session at meeting end)

  • 35% is the mark for the restaurants and bars, any more than 35% and the establishment is considered a bar

  • Any Public hearings on the matter? They are due by May 1st

  • Amendment to the rules by Fiermonte and Bushor; defining a restaurant by the city atty.

  • Councilor Perry: The city cannot enforce all fo the laws imposed

  • Concern: Kathy Sweeney- Bars’ obstructed view to uphold the liquor liscense (ie NECI)

  • Chris (NECI)- concern over break period between times, as customers may want a drink while watching the students, with the new wording, it would not be open

  • Leslie Meyers (Sweetwaters)- supports the law

  • Bob- there needs to be a public forum about the rules

  • Curley moved to refer matter to committee, 2nded by Bushor, Perry agrees, Keogh opposed

**Adjourned at 8:07PM

Public Forum

  • Diane Garron: Burlington currently pays $674,000 per year on the Moran Plant, and it will not be paid off untiil 2017; $474,000 is still over due, not the $425,000 as previously quoted by Clavelle; Would the City council commit themselves to the deal? [No response by the council]

  • Nancy Wood (Burlington Business Association): Opinions of the members of the association are mixed about the sales tax, it will not help the city, Burlington taxes for business owners are high enough as it is already, while property taxes are lower

  • Alan Sousie: Urges council to ask the legislature for more permissable uses for Moran; does not support the tax incremental financing

  • Charity Tensel (Burl. GOP chair): Tax increment financing is not good, how will the YMCA develop revenue for the city if they are a non-profit?

  • Sandy Winn: supports the houseing targets, and the targets are not quotas (ie 10 years)

  • Kurt Wright: City needs to find out what the residents want at Moran


  • Councilor Carleton: A hotel at the corner of cherry and battery street is in the works; smoking ordinance is currently in the city attorney’s office

  • Councilor Keogh (Liscense comm.): A texas hold em poker tournament may or may not be in violation of the gambling, but they will go ahead and hold it Councilor O’Sullivan (Transportation comm.): CIRC public forum at the meeting on Feb 21st, the committee would like a full 5 year plan for the transportation, may include rental cars for the UVM students to share


  • A rememberance ceremony for Big Joe will be on May 26th,

  • Feb 16th a fundraiser at ECHO

  • Village to village networking with Sri Lanka

  • 50% cut to Vermont Legal Aid

Sales Tax:

  • Councilor O’Sullivan wants the revenue generated from the tax to first go towards budget

  • **Councilor Knodell leaves, then returns in middle of Smoking Ban discussion

Smoking Ban:

  • Councilor Ellis: voted against ordinance, but supports the freedom of smoking for the clubs to keep the smoking, but have a poll of their members to allow smoking:

  • 11 opposed, 2 approve (Curley & Ashe)

  • For the complete ban of clubs, public and private:

  • 12 approve, 1 opposed (Curley)

**Council moved to Executive Session at 11PM

Jan 31, 2005 – Board of Finance meeting

6PM, First Floor Conference Room #12, City Hall – Board of Finance meeting

**Councilor Knodell in audience, arrives 20 minutes late

Mayor Clavelle called meeting to order
Agenda items: 1) 2006 Budget and 2) 1% Sales tax

2006 Budget & 1% Sales Tax:

  • No programs have been added or taken away

  • Contracts with Fire, Police are a 3 year length

  • There is a current gap of $105,000 (including the sales tax which would generate an estimate of $1.6 Million with 75% property tax of $1.2 Million

  • Property tax relief program: those that make $47,000 and lower will not be affected by the reappraisal; those below the $47,000 will receive relief from state education program

  • The $47,000 level is determined by the state, not the city (those above $88,000 would not receive any assistance)

  • The number of people not taking advantage of the property tax relief are not completely accurate

  • $.99 of the $1.05 tax rate is revenue neutral

  • Clavelle refers to Williston as an example of how the sales tax can help the community in property tax relief; also Clavelle suggests increasing property tax to make up for the gap if sales tax isn’t approved by the voters or is delayed

  • Kelleher doesn’t think 100% of the relief would be realistic, with regards to the level of services provided by the city

Comments or Questions from Audience and board:

  • Leslie of the Burlington Business Association: Any tax is a concern for the members, they’d like the revenue generated go into the general fund

  • Curley: How many employees are retiring? Are there any fees coming in from Fletcher Allen? What are the rates of the Electric Department?

  • Bushor: Feels it should apply as multiple year instead of just for FY 2006, an does not need to be in the charter

  • Montroll: Feels it should be applied as one year and then re-neogtiated after this year

  • Sales tax: how to get the information about the tax to the public; Kelleher is attending all the NPAs in February, and will be on Ch. 17 on the week of 2/14

  • There are eight questions on the sample ballots

Meeting adjourned at 7:30PM