By Mayor Kristine Lott
Hello neighbors, I have several updates this week from our Council meeting on Monday. To follow along, feel free to view all of the related agenda materials here.
Early in the meeting, the Methodist Church presented its progress on becoming a registered historic landmark, recognizing its history with the Vermont Buffalo Soldiers, who were residents of Winooski. A marker will highlight the church as an official site on Vermont’s African American Heritage Trail! To learn more about this important historical recognition, click here and here.
Later, we asked staff to begin work on creating a COVID-19 relief grant program for local non-profit service providers. Similar to the COVID-19 relief grants we offered to local businesses, this will set aside a small amount of Ameican Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for certified non-profits that support Winooski residents with shelter, food security, and other pandemic-related impacts. A program framework will be presented during the City Council meeting on August 8. In the meantime, we awarded some urgent funding to the Winooski Food Shelf and the Congolese Community of Vermont Association so that they may continue to provide their necessary services.
Speaking of the meeting on August 8, a public hearing will be held to receive feedback on priority housing incentive language we may use to update our land use regulations. After a recommendation from the Housing Commission and six months of hard work from the Planning Commission, this will be your final opportunity to weigh in on this topic. In short, these incentives focus on creating the much-needed affordable 3-bedroom (or larger) housing opportunities in Winooski. The proposed language includes a small parking reduction in the gateway districts (Malletts Bay Ave, Main St., E. Allen St.) and new standards to permit multi-unit building developments in our residential areas. If you haven't yet, sign up for our meeting notices to receive the meeting and agenda info. We welcome your thoughts on this process as we do what we can to address the national housing crisis.
After, we discussed Regional Dispatch, an effort to regionalize emergency dispatch with our neighboring communities, which is slowly coming along. Voters approved this effort in 2017 as a way to decrease emergency response times and improve service. Member communities include Winooski, Burlington, Colchester, South Burlington, and Williston. We approved a request to contribute to startup funds to keep us on track for moving to regional operations in 2024. This effort has taken many years, and thanks to State and Federal funding, we are coming closer to realization.
And with housing in mind, I've heard a lot of questions about the citywide reappraisal process. To quickly recap, the State of Vermont mandated our reappraisal based on rising home values. State law requires Vermont municipalities to reappraise all forms of property when the Common Level of Appraisal (CLA) falls below 85% or rises above 115% in an effort to ensure that every property taxpayer is paying their fair share of (but not more than) property taxes. I want to be clear that while a reappraisal will increase most home values on record, this does not equal an increase in your property tax bill. Voters approve a budget each year, and that amount is divided across properties, so some property owners may see a slight increase or decrease based on their home’s value compared to the average value in Winooski. The total tax dollars collected by the City do not change, so as property values go up, the tax rate will actually go down. The reappraisal will complete in 2024 - for full details on this process, please visit winooskivt.gov/reappraisal.
I'd also like to mention that there are two Winooski board seats up for appointment: the Green Mountain Transit Board of Commissioners and the Town Meeting TV Board of Trustees. To learn more about these amazing volunteer opportunities and apply, visit winooskivt.gov/volunteer.
Lastly, please watch my latest episode of 'In the World of Winooski', where I interview the Fight For Kids Foundation about their plans to bring a youth center on Stevens Street!
As always, feel free to reach out at any time.
Mayor Kristine Lott
firstname.lastname@example.org / 802 766 1988