Front Porch Forum - Winter

Responses to Front Porch Forum Post Asking About Ballot Items

Item #2

Not sure if it’s accurate to say that the increase is mainly for maintaining core municipal services. This proposed municipal tax increase is geared more toward having the ability to pay salary increases of both firefighters and police officers. Here is an example of salary/wage increases for firefighters: for FY19 2% wage increase (retroactive to 7/1/18) – FY20 2.5% – FY21 and FY22 3%. To your questions are they referring to core downtown, the answer is NO.

Here are other angles of this issue that I feel like are problematic.

Every 5 years, the city holds negotiations with city employee unions. No city councilors participate in those bargainings. The city attorney (appointed by the mayor) is the lead representative of the administration in those negotiation processes. The council does receive periodic oral bargaining updates in executive sessions from the city attorney before ratifying new contracts for union members. Let me be clear here, I have nothing against unions, I think it’s critical for city employees, all employees to organize in order to protect their rights as workers. My problem is with elected officials (representatives of neighborhood taxpayers) who seek and receive political campaign endorsements from the unions that they are then called to ratify their contracts.

The votes by the council to increase the municipal tax rate passed by a vote of 10 – 2. I voted against it for these reasons.

A) The administration did not work with city departments to find cost savings within city departments.
B) We already have $70 million on the backs of taxpayers for the BHS bond and another $30M for the utility (storm water) bond.
C) We have a projected spending per equalized pupil of 6.31% higher than spending for the current year for the FY20 school budget.
D) Burlington Telecom has been sold, the sale may have over $6 Million in revenue for the city.

I will be voting NO for #2.

Item #3

Ballot item number #3 has two major components:

The Planning Director appointed by the Mayor. Currently, the Planning Director responds to the planning commissions therefore there is no accountability to the Mayor or the council. Please note all other department heads in the city are appointed by the mayor except for the Planning Director who works with almost all other Department heads on a daily basis to plan and execute projects. I personally don’t think the Mayor appointing the planning director is a bad idea.
Everyone in this community should welcome having a one stop shop where you could go and get all your permitting needs in order to complete upgrades, construction in your home. Even city staff found the aspect of going to many places to get a permit not very efficient. I think it has been an ask from residents, builders and developers for years now.

I will be voting YES for #3.

Item #4

Our Church Street Marketplace (CSMP) was established in 1981 and has become an asset for the city of Burlington. All assets need to be marketed, strengthened and polished. Over the years, The CSMP, a city department has been functioning greatly without a penny from taxpayers but simply with federal funds for the capital improvement plan and levy tax from Church Street property owners and marketplace businesses.

Knowing that municipalities are more and more losing funding from our federal Government, knowing that online sales are increasingly taking over retail sales, knowing that our local businesses are the backbone of our state’s economy, knowing that our businesses are an important part of our tax base, I think it is important that we find ways to strengthen our downtown and support our downtown businesses.

I am opposed to this Downtown Improvement District Proposal (DID) as the DID proposal is rushed, therefore it did not get adequate community input. According to the DID phase-1 report prepared by the Progressive Urban Management Associates (PUMA), only 75 stakeholders participated in an interview or focus group.

Over 1000 people responded to the online survey to express their thoughts on DESIRED improvements in our downtown. And yet here is a proposed DID charter change language going to our voters without any well vetted community input. Not to mention that this charter change language did not provide case scenarios or options for our community members to choose from. Let’s not forget the work well done by CEDO providing at least 4 options with multiple details for the community to choose from specific to the redevelopment of Memorial Auditorium. One can argue that Charter Change ballot item language is different from development ballot item language, but what they have in common is you cannot design democracy or anything without a public referendum.

I would have voted Yes if it was proposed as an advisory ballot item, not a mandate.

I am voting No for #4.

Item #5

For the ” Business Personal Property Tax” (BPPT)

Every business will still pay taxes. Here it’s important to refer to the title of this ballot item Personal Property Tax. The State of Vermont permits towns and municipalities to tax business personal property. The cities of Burlington and Winooski are the only municipalities in Chittenden County currently imposing a tax on personal property with personal property (business equipments, furnitures etc.) assets estimated at $45,000 or more. The City of Burlington collects over $1.2 million in revenue yearly from this tax. The City anticipates eliminating this Business Personal Property Tax starting in 2026 while exploring how revenue from the Personal Property Tax might be replaced, and if there are alternative more equitable means of assessing the business personal property tax. City leaders are committed to business growth and fostering a climate and tax structure that encourages growth in a responsible manner. Small businesses are the backbone of Vermont’s economic vitality. Supporting them in our city is supporting the economic growth of our community and state.

I will be voting Yes for #5

Thank You La Boca Wood Fired Pizza in Burlington Vermont

Thank You for Joining Us at La Boca

On behalf of New North End School Commissioners Dr. Ivancic and Gulick and City Councilors Hartnett and myself, thank you for joining us for an informative gathering last Thursday at La Boca Pizza. We received great presentations from Stephanie Yu, a NNE resident and policy analyst at the Public Assets Institute on education financing in our state and also a great presentation on the home appraisal process coming to Burlington soon. Thank you everyone for coming together to discuss and learn more about issues in our community. If you have not yet been to La Boca wood fired pizza, check it out. It has a very welcoming atmosphere and is very family friendly.
Kienan Christianson - Burlington City Council candidate for the North District

Stephanie Yu

Bob Hooper - Vermont State Representative - Chittenden 6-1

Nancy Ellis and Monika Ivancic

Tomorrow, Monday 1/28, we will have an interesting City Council meeting where we expect much community participation specific to the City Hall Park advisory ballot item. The council will decide whether or not it will be placed on the ballot on March 5th.

To be brief, I love the City Hall Park restoration design and would want to see it executed as planned. The current and past city administrations, city councilors along with many city commissioners have worked very hard on this plan since 2011. During 2016-2018 alone the city staff from (Parks and Recreation and Waterfront, Department of Public Works, Burlington City Arts, CEDO) dedicated over 4,600 hours of time to City Hall Park. The hours include time spent organizing and attending over 25 public meetings developing and reviewing multiple iterations of plans, and managing consultants to prepare the contract plans that went to bid in early 2019. I believe the city has done its due diligence while ensuring the necessary steps to gather public opinion throughout the process.

I will be introducing the resolution to have it be on the ballot despite my stand on the issue for three reasons:

1) According to Article 20 of Vermont Constitution citizens of this state have the right to petition their legislators and instruct their representatives;

2) Vermont Law provides that voters may petition to have an article placed on the warning of the annual meeting (town meeting day) by submitting a petition signed by at least five percent of the voters of the municipality;

3) The Keep The Park Green group has submitted a petition with the required number of valid signatures petitioning the Burlington City Council to warn the advisory language on the ballot for a vote on town meeting Day.

Thank you to everyone that took the time to send us correspondences around the City Hall Park issue. I am inviting you to please join us at the Monday’s City Council meeting at 7:30 pm to speak your mind at the public forum.

One thing at a time, so many good things are happening in our great city. I look forward to provide more info around the “Investigation” I started with the delayed much needed crosswalks installation on North Avenue in the near future.

Front Porch Forum - Winter

Front Porch Forum: 2019-01-23

Dear neighbors,

I know many of you may have questions or would like updates around various issues in our city, especially issues around safety in our neighborhood. I am happy to reassure you that we living in the New North End have not been forgotten.

In light of the tragic accident that took place on North Avenue, area city councillors Hartnett and Wright brainstormed questions with me to ask to the Mayor of Burlington and Public Works Director as to why the promised crosswalk installations on North Ave were delayed. Those questions have resulted in an internal investigation. More details will follow before January 28th.

On January 4th staff of DPW and I spent quite some time in Ward 7 neighborhoods reviewing ongoing projects and capturing work that needs to be done in neighborhoods such as Village Green, Goss Court, Gazo Ave, the intersection of Ethan Allen Mobile Home Park and North Ave, and more. Thanks you to all those we encountered along the way highlighting the urgently needed safety upgrades. I would like to thank the board members of the mobile home park for inviting me to their meetings to learn about the issues they face and for opening a new line of communication and collaboration with the city.

We have quite a number of ballot items for the community on Town Meeting Day, March 5th. All the potential ballot items will be finalized by the council at our next meeting on January 28th.

Please join me, along with Ward 7 School Commissioner Dr. Monika Ivancic, on Thursday, January 24th at 6Pm at La Boca Pizza for detailed updates around the School Budget, Town Meeting Day ballot items, neighborhood projects and most importantly meeting with Kienan Christianson, one of the candidates for the North District Burlington City Council. For more info about the event visit: alidieng.com. Hope to see you there to answer your questions and capture your concerns.

Please reach out anytime,
adieng@burlingtonvt.gov
802-318-2527
Best Regards,
Ali

Blurry Christmas Lights

I wish you all Happy Holidays

I hope that this message finds you well, and I wish you all Happy Holidays. I am very thankful to live, work and raise my family in Burlington, especially in the New North End, a truly welcoming neighborhood. Thank you to everyone who voted on election day and to the over 8,300 neighbors  across the city who voted for me as Justice of the Peace. Congratulations to our Neighborhood State Representatives Carol Ode and Bob Hooper for winning their elections bids as our state representatives.

New Year’s Eve Celebration: “HIGHLIGHT”

For 35 years ‘First Night Burlington’ was Vermont’s largest single-day Festival of the Arts and a holiday celebration for the whole family. Burlington City Arts has taken over the coordination of this year’s New Year’s Eve celebration, now called ‘Highlight.’ Despite limited funding and planning time, Highlight will provide community focused experiences (performances, activities, church street parade, fireworks, etc.) This year the celebration will include a giant bonfire on the Waterfront and one fireworks display at 8:00pm. For more information, visit http://highlight.community.

Permit Reform / CEDO Reorganization

The city administration is proposing the creation of a new Permitting and Inspections Department to address the longstanding concerns about the city’s permit system. The proposition received full support from the council and has been referred to the Charter Change Committee to work on drafting charter language for a December 17th council vote. There will be a public hearing on this issue; it has not yet been scheduled. The administration has also proposed a CEDO reorganization, incorporating the Planning Commission. This raised some questions from the council and did not have as much support, so there was a special council meeting on December 3rd to further explore the reorganization idea.

Downtown Improvement District (DID)

The council, alongside the Church Street Marketplace and Burlington Business Association, hired a consultant to review and make recommendations around best practices for downtown improvements. The DID will provide enhanced services that address our downtown’s most pressing challenges and opportunities, including public safety and cleanliness, mobility, economic vitality, parking management, marketing and more. I will provide detailed updates on my website: >www.alidieng.com about DID in the near future.

Business Personal Property Tax (BPPT)

The State of Vermont permits towns and municipalities to tax business personal property. The cities of Burlington and Winooski are the only municipalities in Chittenden County currently imposing a tax on personal property with personal property (business equipments, furnitures etc.) assets estimated at $45,000 or more. The City of Burlington collects over $1.2 million in revenue yearly from this tax. The City anticipates eliminating this Business Personal Property Tax starting in 2026 while exploring how revenue from the Personal Property Tax might be replaced, and if there are alternative more equitable means of assessing the business personal property tax. City leaders are committed to business growth and fostering a climate and tax structure that encourages growth in a responsible manner. Small businesses are the backbone of Vermont’s economic vitality. Supporting them in our city is supporting the economic growth of our community and state.

 

I welcome your thoughts on the above initiatives or any other city issues. Please reach out to me anytime at adieng@burlingtonvt.gov.

 

May you and yours enjoy a peaceful holiday season,

Ali

Front Porch Forum

Front Porch Forum: 2018-10-09

Dear Neighbors,

Happy Fall! I hope everyone is enjoying the beauty of Vermont’s fall season. There is so much happing in the city and particularly in the New North End. I wanted to share a few updates.

Please join me in congratulating Darren Springer, for his nomination to lead Burlington Electric Department as General Manager. Darren is currently working as the Chief Operation Officer and Manager for Strategy and Innovation at Burlington Electric Department. He is an active member of the community, residing in the New North End with his family. The council anticipates confirming his appointment on Monday, October 15th.

Alongside other New American leaders, we held a Town Hall meeting with Senator Sanders at the Old North End Community Center (20 Allen St.) in September to empower people to vote and encourage civic engagement. The Town Hall was a great success with nearly 250 people in attendance. If you have not yet visited the ONE Community Center, I encourage you to check out this great community space, newly renovated and hosting programs of all kinds.

On September 24th, the City Council voted to put a $70 million bond for BHS renovations on the November ballot; a $30 million bond for water and sewage infrastructure updates was added. I have received many requests from my constituents to vote in agreement with the BHS Renovation ballot item. All shared concerns about the current BHS building’s accessibility, safety and learning environment. Most importantly, this would be an investment in the community. The BHS renovation plan was developed through five years of re-envisioning and was well vetted across the city through the hard work of the school board, Council and community volunteers.

I believe that we must find a solution to prevent sewage from spilling into Lake Champlain, but at the meeting, I articulated my disagreement with adding the $30 million utility bond on the ballot item in November for the following reasons:

  • We already pay for water/sewage directly and indirectly via city taxes and household water bills.
  • Unlike the $70 million bond for BHS which guarantees a safer and more accessible building, the $30 million utility bond provides no guarantee against future sewage leaks into Lake Champlain.
  • There should be a robust community conversation about any significant investment like this before putting it on the ballot.
  • As elected officials, we must think about all Burlington residents, with special consideration of those who are low income, older or living with a disability on a fixed income and the challenges that any additional taxes and fees put on their ability to make ends meet. A 2015 AARP-VT found that over half of Burlington residents age 45 and plus were ‘somewhat” or very concerned about being able to pay utility bills in the coming years. Similarly, in the statewide needs assessment of older Vermonters age 60+ conducted in 2017 by The Department of Aging and independent Living (DAIL), both housing and financial security rose to the top of respondents’ list of most pressing concerns, with people sharing responses, such as: “Taxes will make me leave when I retire;” “If all the taxes were less, I could afford to get what I needed on my own;” and “The taxes in this state kill the elderly more than the weather does.” Is there a different way to find the funds we need without overburdening the most vulnerable? We need to consider all the options, including how we move forward with the future of Memorial Auditorium.

I’m looking forward to connecting with you again soon via FPF with a few more updates before the next council meeting Monday, October 15th.

As always, thank you for your engagement and please reach out any time. And don’t forget to vote on November 6th!

Block Party - July 29th - Kanet Circle

Block Party: Sunday July 29th – Janet Circle

11:00am – 3:00pm

YOU are invited to the Block Party on Janet Circle. On the south side of Burlington’s New North End, Janet Circle is off James Ave. Which is off of Ethan Allen Parkway. We’ll have kids activities, a neighborhood music jam, food for everyone and more! If you can, please bring a dish or non-alcoholic drinks to enjoy. We have joined efforts to bring people together in the New North End. Join me, Council President Kurt Wright and Councilor Dave Hartnett for the first of hopefully annual block parties on Janet Circle.

For more information contact me at 318-2527.

Robert Miller Community and Recreation Center - Burlington, VT

Heatwave Cooling Station

With the coming heatwave, the City of Burlington has opened three Cooling Stations where people can come to cool down.

  • The Miller Center Community Room
  • Fletcher Free Library
  • The Burlington Police Department Community Room

Miller Center Hours

  • Sunday: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
  • Monday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

I will be assisting with transportation on Sunday to and from the Miller Center for residents of the New North End. Please call me at 802-318-2527 if you are interested.

Did somebody say ICE CREAM?

Yes! I will be offering free ice cream from 1-2 on Sunday.

Ali Dieng speaking at TEDx Stowe

Ali Dieng Speaking at TEDx Stowe

UPDATE: The video is here

I am honored to be one of the speakers at this important event in Stowe. I am sorry to say it is SOLD OUT, but that reflects the commitment to community and thirst for knowledge that Vermonters maintain.

Check out the profiles of the speakers that will be hearing from.

About TEDx Stowe

TEDxStowe is a window into Vermont today. A rare opportunity to celebrate and connect with our Vermont community through big ideas. Some of the state’s most unique thinkers and inspiring storytellers will take to the stage to provoke conversations that matter. TEDxStowe is a place to learn about our neighbors and to celebrate those who are striving to innovate, to unite, and to lead in a variety of fields. It is also a moment to shed light on the challenges our communities face and investigate ways we can better pursue a common vision.

Door Knocking in Ward 7 Burlington VT

Door Knocking

It’s always a great pleasure to reconnect with the residents of Ward 7. It is such an honor serving you as your representative on City Council, and I thank you so much for all your ongoing support. It’s great to learn that many of you have already voted to support my candidacy.

For those who have not voted yet, please show up strong to support your candidate for City Council. I hope to see you all Town Meeting Day at the Miller Center from 7am to 7pm.

Door Knocking - Ali Dieng Ward 7 City Council - Burlington, VT