Three multi-million-dollar ballot items were overwhelmingly approved on Tuesday during South Burlington’s annual meeting.

Each item saw majority votes in favor of approval during a low turnout election that saw only 20 percent of registered voters cast a ballot.


The city’s $55 million budget passed 2,440 to 900, which city officials have said will restore previous cuts in the city’s more than $30 million general fund, with a 9.41 percent increase in expenditures from last year’s budget.

The fiscal year 2024 budget funds positions that were cut during the COVID-19 pandemic — such as a deputy chief position and a police officer position within the city’s department, as well as a new firefighter position.

The budget did not, however, include funding for a recreation center, an item on the city’s wishlist for years, nor does it include any funding for a regional dispatch center.

The budget seemed a controversial topic for voters — some opposed the budget because they do not want a raise in taxes.

But Peter Carmolli, a resident of South Burlington for 30 years who leads the city’s food shelf, disagreed.

“I voted yes,” he said. “The town has done a good job. The recreation department is great — they’re trying to do good things, and hopefully, the people we elect will spend wisely. I have faith in people.”

TIF debt

Major traffic and infrastructure improvements, meanwhile, are on the way, after voters approved more than $15 million in tax increment financing district debt, 2,395 to 940.

The city plans to build out several public infrastructure projects in its City Center with the debt. The tax increment financing, or TIF, district is an area encompassing City Center, an area rezoned in the 1980s to spur private investment that has since become a hub for new residential and commercial development in the city.

Now, with voter approval, $8.3 million will go toward the Garden Street Phase 2 project, which will realign the roadway at Al’s French Frys on Williston Road to make a four-corner intersection with crosswalks, and improvements for walking and biking extended east along Williston Road to the corner of Gracey’s liquor outlet, on Hinesburg and Patchen roads.

Another $1.3 million will replace the sidewalk on the south side of Williston Road extending west, from Al’s French Frys to Dorset Street, and buildout a shared use, walk and bicycle path.

About $4.3 million will go toward the city’s East-West Crossing bridge — approved by the council in November — that will extend from Quarry Hill and the Staples Plaza over I-89 into the University Mall property.

And last, $1.1 million will go toward the City Center Park Phase 2 recreation path, connecting Market and Garden streets to the City Center Park.

Carmolli said he supported the TIF proposal due to concerns for pedestrian safety.

“I would love to see a crosswalk across Williston Road,” said Carmolli. “There are so many people and Vermont is aging. Williston Road can be a raceway at times. One of my friends’ moms was killed after getting hit by a car on the street, so you remember that. I remember that.”

Bartlett Bay upgrades

Upgrades to the tune of $33.8 million were approved for the city’s Bartlett Bay Wastewater Treatment plant. The voter approval sets the city on track to make major refurbishment to the treatment plant by the summer of 2026.

Much of the infrastructure in the treatment plant is well past its lifespan — it was built in 1970 and had its last upgrade in 1999 — and many of the water pump stations are beginning to break down.

Voters approved the bond vote 2,914 to 436.

The $33.8 million price tag also includes upgrades to the Airport Parkway wastewater facility to better manage solids generated from the Bartlett Bay site. That will cost $1.8 million.

Upgrades to the pump stations, meanwhile, will cost approximately $4.5 million. Some of the pump stations have been in service for 50 years and the existing cast-iron mains need replacing to prevent raw sewage spills into the bay.

But the upgrades will mean rate increases for users on the system. An estimated 6.75 percent increase is expected for fiscal years 2024, 2025 and 2026 — a $71 increase in the annual cost to homeowners on the city’s water system.

About 90 percent of homes in South Burlington are served by the system.

Kaylyn Bills, a reporter with the Community News Service of the University of Vermont, contributed to this report.

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