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Accounting error brings Burlington budget gap to $14.1M

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Accounting error brings Burlington budget gap to $14.1M


BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – The Burlington City Council Monday night will get a closer look at the 2025 budget, and a budget gap that has now grown to $14.1 million because of a recently found $1.1 million accounting error.

It’s a case of deja vu for Burlington Chief Administrative Officer Katherine Schad. “In a chaotic budget year, there were a lot of moving pieces. So, we’re thankful that we caught that before submitting the final budget. But it’s an unfortunate error to come in June,” she said.

After a shortfall from the previous administration led to taxpayers footing the bill, Schad says the city will not be doing the same for this $1.1 million. This time, the plan is to collect previously unpaid gross receipts taxes from businesses, cut down on other fees, and put a plan for a new ambulance on hold.

Schad says the city will work on the budget beginning in August to avoid mistakes like this. “How do we do more proactive budgeting and get on to more of a three-year cycle and not be finding things late in April, May, June, but really have much more of a fulsome budget to present in like January and February,” Schad said.

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Overall, municipal taxes will be going up around $400 for a home valued at $500,000, which is close to the median home price. But in a year of a new school and soaring education costs — plus additional utility costs — the owner of a similarly valued property should expect to pay an additional $1,200.

“Being able to only take two of those three cents for the approved public safety increase is something that’s very important to the mayor and was guiding us as we tried to fill that $1.1 million,” Schad said. said.

The original $13.1 million gap was due to one-time funds no longer being available, plus increased expenses.

Budget woes have stood out in Burlington Mayor Emma Mulvaney-Stanak’s first few months, and she has repeatedly said that affordability is a top priority. “This has been an exceptionally challenging budget season, and I will be working with the Chief Administrative Officer to ensure they have the staff and resources needed as we prepare for Fiscal Year 2026,” Mulvaney-Stanak said in a statement.

The growth of city government continues; it’s around 7 percent larger than last year’s budget.

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Vermont

A Vermont We Can Afford: Urgent Reforms Needed | Ken Wells – Newport Dispatch

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A Vermont We Can Afford: Urgent Reforms Needed | Ken Wells – Newport Dispatch


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The session has come and gone and while some inroads were made in Montpelier this winter and spring there is still a lot of work to do. Let’s review the work list that should be priority one.

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Affordability

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How much can the vast majority of Vermonters take? A tax increase on your property of 15%? An impending bill to raise the cost of heating oil by 70 cents? Our local prime property purchased by out of staters while locals cannot afford the massive prices accelerated over the last four years. We are pricing out our native Vermont sons and daughters to the point where many have to choose between food bills or fuel. This cannot sustain for long as many Vermonters are stretched to the limit. That is not the way we should have to live. That has to be priority one for House and Senate members.

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EMT, Fireman, Police Force, Border Patrol

They run towards danger for the sake of our citizens. Don’t say there is no money when millions are wasted on junk bills and repeated studies on obvious problems. We spend Vermont tax dollars in this state on too many studies to figure out how to spend more money. What’s more important? Having an EMT rescue you from a crashed vehicle? Fireman saving your house and possessions when it’s totally engulfed in flames? Defending you from various criminals from drug dealers to burglars to thugs? These people save our lives, give them what they want and more importantly what they need.

Schools

It now costs more to send a student to a Vermont school averaging over $27,000.00 per student. This state has less students than they did decades ago. But with thousands of less students we pay millions more. We have to find a way to pay these educators that does not swamp the average taxpayer.

Teaching our youth is a noble task and I commend anyone who is in the education field. I also believed they should be paid well for their efforts. We have a lot of outstanding teachers in Orleans County. Those educators that believe in our young people and support them in becoming the best learners and best citizens they can be. Those teachers are a prized part of our society. The public should be behind these teachers 100 per cent.

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In our area we have been fortunate to have some outstanding schools. United Christian Academy in Newport has paved a solid path of learning since they opened. North Country Union High school is smaller from 1200 students a few decades back to under 700 now and are led by the 2023 State of Vermont Principle of the year Chris Young so it’s clear they are in good hands.

Lake Region UHS has placed among the top ten state schools several times in the last decade, a testament to Andre Messier and his staff and their performance.

The big statewide picture needs some work but in our neck of woods in Orleans County our schools have performed very well.

The price of all services always goes up. Lets just find some ways to fund those needed increases and take more of the burden off local taxpayers.

Cell Service-Wi-Fi

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It’s gotten better but if you live in an area where cell service is spotty like I do, you need a booster to get your computer up to full speed you know what I mean. Orleans County has many dead zones to this day. Finish the darn job. Today.

Housing

This affects a very large number of Green Mountain state residents. The average Vermonter makes $33,000.00 a year. The average family makes $67,000.00 a year before taxes. Houses these days average $233,000.00 each and that seems to be a low estimate in 2024. Couple that with mortgage rates up to 9% on a 30 year mortgage and you have the perfect storm. The average Vermonter’s age is 43. That makes it virtually impossible for young people as a whole to afford a new home. Maybe you can find a fixer upper for 150K in the country. The current bill H.687 which is an act 250 reform proposal will further hamper Rural Development and make you find housing in towns, villages or our small cities. Not everyone wants to live in a crowded area. That’s not the type of reform Vermonters need. We have a beautiful state and ideals that generational Vermonters want preserved. They do not want themselves, their children and grandchildren forced out of housing, or jobs or the best schools. The Vermont way of life is worth fighting for.

These five issues are just a few that need immediate attention. We have to start somewhere and start right now.

Thank you for your time,
Ken Wells, Brownington

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Tornado watch issued for all of Vermont until Sunday evening

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Tornado watch issued for all of Vermont until Sunday evening


Tornadoes are possible in all counties of Vermont until 8 p.m.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for the state Sunday afternoon. A tornado watch covers large areas when conditions are right for tornadoes to form. “A few tornadoes likely,” reads the weather service bulletin.

The weather service encourages people to review their emergency supplies and plans so that they are ready if a tornado touches down.

Scattered hail and strong wind gusts are also possible.

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The tornado watch also covers counties in New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine.

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New Hampshire sweeps twin state lacrosse games

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New Hampshire sweeps twin state lacrosse games


HANOVER, N.H. (WCAX) – Fresh off the high school lacrosse season, the Vermont and New Hampshire all-stars battled in the twin state lacrosse games on Saturday. New Hampshire swept the day, claiming the girls game 21-13, while the boys won 19-4.



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