The city’s next budget requires us to consider a tax increase to maintain the city services. I support an increase to our local tax rate, and to keep Burlington affordable, we must do more to analyze and adjust how we raise our revenue. I also support the FY25 school budget, while acknowledging this is a significant tax increase due to the first year of our high school bond obligation. Burlington should be affordable for all. Many are struggling to live and work in our city. Residents deserve a city that provides robust services and is able make an impact on the pressing challenges facing our community.
60% of Burlington’s grand list is exempt from paying property taxes. Residential property owners pay a disproportionate amount of taxes on their homes compared to commercial properties. Unlike state property taxes for the education fund, our municipal tax system does not account for the income of the household. We also do not have a renter tax credit system like the state’s, which would account for the increase in rent compared to household income for lower income households. These structural realities, combined with the recent reappraisal process and need to fund our city services, places a significant burden on moderate and low income residents. We must do better.
As mayor, I will explore how the city can create more equitable revenue policies that protect the economic diversity of our city. The City should review tax exempt properties, commercial property assessments, and ways we can align our local tax system to the state’s well-established income sensitized property tax system. I will look for additional ways to raise revenue for the city within public-private partnerships, leases, and MOUs held by the city to benefit our community.
I will also engage residents in a more transparent budgeting process that includes meaningful community engagement so residents can participate in naming our city’s funding priorities. I will work to create a long-term budgeting system that looks beyond a one-to-two year fiscal cycle. This will allow us to coordinate with our school district and with our city departments to plan, identify our priorities, project and anticipate our financial and capital needs, and create a sustainable fiscal plan that goes beyond election cycles. We need our budget to reflect the priorities, needs, and values of our city.