Burlington Ward 7 City Councilor Ali Dieng interviews the General Manager of Burlington Electric Department, Darren Springer.
Host Ali Dieng is joined by Stephanie Seguino, UVM Economics Professor, and Mark Hughes, Executive Director of Justice For All, to discuss the Burlington Resolution Relating to Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
Burlington prides itself on being a welcoming and inclusive community. As the largest and most diverse city in the State of Vermont, we have the opportunity to be leaders in highlighting the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion, not just through our words but through our actions.
This resolution is an important step in this direction. It creates a senior position in city government to guide and support city leaders and departments in becoming more diverse, equitable and inclusive internally, and across all that we do in Burlington. It also creates a committee of the city council focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, a committee that will be tasked with exploring the idea of a standing commission on these critical issues.
Our city, no doubt, faces many challenges, but we have learned that the diversity of our community is one of our greatest strengths. We cannot take this diversity for granted. We must work diligently to ensure that everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, gender identity, age, ability or country of origin, is fully included in the fabric of our community life, and this must be done with great intention and focus.
Substantial amounts of work take place behind the scenes to deliver high-quality drinking water to Burlington residents. Our licensed water professionals, who include mathematicians, chemists, physicians, biologists, customer care professional and more, are on the front lines to treat waste water, storm water and sewage before sending highly treated water into Lake Champlain. Next time you turn on your faucet, think of the skilled professionals who stand behind every drop. Burlington has a long history of providing residents, visitors and businesses with reliable access to clean water, at the tap and in the lake. We need to ensure this legacy continues, and we need to lead the state and nation with innovative programs.
Voters of Burlington are conscious of their health, the health of children and pets, and the health of our lake and planet. This is the reason why people of Burlington voted overwhelmingly with over 90% of the vote to approve the $30 million utility bond (storm water and waste water bond) at our last town meeting day. This bond will increase the water bill at no more than $5 per month for regular single family residences using 600 cubic feet of water a month.
Their votes will allow the Water Division under the leadership of Meghan Moir (Director of the Water Division) to do much more, including the following:
• Enhancing and maintaining existing underground water distribution systems
• Upgrading computerized systems to be smart systems for accuracy and efficiencies
• Innovations and education that will meet regulatory state policies
• Minimizing summer season beach closures due to microbial contaminants, such as viruses and bacteria which may come from sewage treatment plants, septic treatments, wildlife or more
• Minimizing (CSO) Combined Sewage Overflow
• Maintaining optimal water chemistry
• Regularly monitoring and inspecting machinery, meter, gauges, and operating condition
• And much, much more….
To do the work listed above, a consultant, Raftelis, was hired to conduct a third party organizational assessment and compensation survey for Water Division staff. The scope of work included addressing existing workload allocation, the potential for adding staff resources and evaluating existing leadership staff compensation compared to other utilities. Based on the recommendations from Raftelis, we should expected an additional water fee increase in phase1 of about $1.70 monthly for regular single family residences.
Please note that the Burlington city council alongside the Mayor, Department of Public Works, and Water Division Director are looking into cost mitigation for vulnerable populations. Evaluation of affordability programs including discounts, rebates, plumbing assistance, residential storm water credits and service line (water and wastewater) and storm water loans and grants. I know some city councilors who vigilantly want Burlington to stay affordable for all residents. We will keep an eye on the developments of evaluating affordability programs.
Thank you, Megan, for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me about your work for the great city of Burlington.
May 4th 2019 Build-Your-Own Rain Barrel Workshop:
Location at DPW Garage- 645 Pine Street
More info and sign up: www.rethinkrunoff.org
Like the whole state, Burlingtonians are aging. 1 in 4 Vermonters are age 60+. By 2030 it will be 1 in 3. We all have this in common – we are all aging. So, how can we make Burlington a place where WE ALL can age well?
Host Ali Dieng is joined by Cindy Wight, Director of Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront; Gail Moreau, Former Executive Director at the Heineberg Community Senior Center and current Board Chair; and Jane Knodell, Former City Councilor and City Rep at the Heineberg Community Senior Center Study Committee.
The 19th Amendment, which gave American women the right to vote, was passed by Congress on June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920. In the 21st century, we have seen a substantial amount of women (and young women in particular) running campaigns and winning elections in the U.S. and around the globe. Women who, like 38-year-old New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (the world’s youngest female head of state), are redefining leadership.
Today, Ali is joined by two incredible young women and activists in our community — Perri Freeman, newly elected Central District City Councilor, and Jane Stromberg, Ward 1 Inspector of Elections — to discuss the power of young women in politics and how their success indicates a better and brighter future for all of us.