City of Burlington requests larger UVM payment for downtown services


AUTUMN LEE / The Vermont Cynic Senior Chris Petrillo discusses his plans for student government and the UVM community as the new SGA President.

Lindsay Freed, Senior Staff Writer

For the first time ever, the city of Burlington is asking UVM to pay for using Burlington infrastructure.

In 2017, the University paid $3 million to the city for fire and police services, according to the UVM 2017 payment for services agreement report.  

Burlington’s proposal is asking for UVM to pay is part of an annual agreement between the city and University, stated Tom Gustafson, vice president for University relations, in an Oct. 18 email.

In the past, the agreement has focused on ‘payments for services’ that the city provides such as fire protection, police, housing inspections, etc.,” Gustafson stated.

The new money requested by the city would go toward capital improvements downtown, he said.

The city is asking UVM and Champlain College to help pay for the restoration of roads, sidewalks and water pipes, said Katie Vane, communications coordinator for the mayor’s office.

The Mayor is optimistic negotiations with UVM will be resolved soon and in a way that benefits both parties,” Vane said.

Discussions over the initial agreement began in 2006 and were signed by then-University President Daniel Fogel and then-Mayor Bob Kiss in 2007, according to the UVM 2017 payment for services agreement report.

The payment for services agreement total for 2017 was $1,395,071, according to the 2017 report.

This amount is the highest since the agreement was made – nearly four times the original contribution, according to the report.

The University also paid $1.5 million for additional services, making the total amount actually given to the city by UVM $2.9 million, according to the report.

The logic behind the agreement stems from how UVM is a tax-exempt organization, but takes up a substantial amount of land and capital in Burlington, according to the report.

“The ongoing argument is that students do not pay taxes,” SGA President Chris Petrillo stated in an Oct. 25 email. “I know, to an extent, that we provide resources to Burlington through our business patronage, social lives and rent.”

Students sustain the Burlington economy despite not necessarily having their own incomes, Petrillo stated.

“If Burlington would like an additional contribution,” he stated, “it should be made absolutely clear what the benefit to the University and the student body will be.”