The Burlington City Council voted Monday to approve the last of the ballot items for Town Meeting Day. Residents will vote on five items in addition to the elections for all eight city council wards.
The ballot items involve a charter change involving sex work, a bond to improve Main Street, a municipal tax increase, another bond for capital projects such as new fire trucks and repairs to roads and bridges, and the school budget.
Sex worker charter change
One of the most publicly contested ballot items, if voted for, this change would take away the City Council's power to punish or regulate sex work. The charter change would take out a phrase in the city's charter that states: "The city council shall have power to restrain and suppress houses of ill fame and disorderly houses, and to punish common prostitutes and persons consorting therewith." Decriminalizing sex work in Burlington would not protect sex workers from being prosecuted on a state level. Prostitution is against the law in Vermont.
Main Street improvement bond
This $25.9 million proposed bond would upgrade the Main Street streetscape along the six blocks between South Union Street and Battery Street. This would include work on storm water management, utilities, lighting and parking. This ballot item would also ask for the approval of an additional use of $1.47 million in city money to manage the project and the ongoing management of the TIF district.
Property tax rate increase
This $0.04 property tax rate increase would create an additional $2.2 million for the General Fund. The city is looking to put more money in the general fund due to inflation over the past couple of years, decreased sources of city revenue due to the pandemic and the need for ongoing funding of new equity investments.
Capital improvements bond
The city tried to pass this bond in the Dec. 7 special election but failed. The amount of money the city is asking for has been brought down to $23.8 million from $40 million. Money from the bond would be used to replace three firetrucks and the fire and police radio system in addition to the fixing of roads, sidewalks and bridges and upkeep of civic buildings, parks and Memorial Auditorium.
The Burlington School District passed their more than $98 million budget on Jan. 18.
Contact Urban Change Reporter Lilly St. Angelo at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @lilly_st_ang
This article originally appeared on Burlington Free Press: Burlington Town Meeting Day: The five ballot items to know