Tom Chittenden


Home » City » 2015 City Council Candidate Questionnaire: Thomas Chittenden

Thursday February 19, 2015

Thomas Ira Chittenden
3 Year Term

Education: Bachelors of Science, University of Vermont; Masters in Business Administration, University of Vermont

Occupation: Lecturer

Years as SB resident: 27 of my 37 years

1. What skills uniquely qualify you for the position of city councilor?

My ability to focus, prioritize and move issues forward.  I offer a perspective that is grounded in business metrics and our city values.  As a lifelong resident (growing up here, going to school here, and living here the majority of my life) I know our city, its history and tradition.  I have a Master’s in Business Administration, many years of consulting experience, many years as a lecturer at the University of Vermont and I offer an informed perspective to improve our city services over the coming decades.

2.What do you feel is the single most pressing concern for the city, and what solutions/actions would you propose?

Property tax burden on our homeowners.  The decisions our city makes each year affect budgets for decades to come.  Setting the course for the next 10, 20 and 30 years requires much more than an in depth technical knowledge of Forms Based Codes and Transect zones – it takes a broad forward thinking perspective on what policies will steer the city towards an economically vibrant future that will balance our tax base and draw more resources to our area.  We need to welcome balanced growth to our tax base to keep our homeowner taxes low, our services funded and our property values strong.

3. What do you believe is the right balance and rate of residential and business/commercial/retail growth? What is the councilor’s role in determining and achieving this balance?

South Burlington had a history of a 50/50 balance of residential and commercial growth that kept our schools, our city and our tax base strong. I believe thoughtful and appropriate growth is important to the city to maintain our services and keep our homeowner property taxes low. Anti-growth policies in the past like Interim Zoning caused a lot of problems in our community – we can’t afford to fall back to a council that supports that type of governance. As a city councilor, I will steward important relationships with the state, business, the school district, staff and all of our neighborhoods to avoid the controversies of the past.

A councilor’s role is to steer the city through policy review, committee appointments, hiring decisions and to provide leadership on important topics. A councilor must reflect the interests of the broad community through thoughtful consideration of policy decisions and budgeting.

4. What are your thoughts on the city’s plans for City Center (Form Based Code, TIF District financial obligations, wastewater allocations, infrastructure). What is your position on the Saxon Partner’s proposal to purchase Marcotte Central School for Phase 1 of its development plan to build City Center Commons?

City Center is an exciting opportunity to unite all the areas of South Burlington while growing the property tax base, the local sales option tax revenues and the number of employment opportunities within our city.  Form Based Code should help reduce the uncertainty for businesses wanting to invest in South Burlington while also streamlining the development review process.  The TIF district is a great opportunity for South Burlington to structure the funding for city enhancements to align with the increased tax revenues from new private investment while not exceeding the market absorption rate of new commercial properties with a phased approach.  As for the Marcotte Central School, this is an important question worth exploring to have a very deliberate and in depth conversation about the optimal configuration for our school infrastructure needs to maintain our high academic standards for the next 50 years. 

5. South Burlington has a unique relationship with Burlington International Airport, the City of Burlington, and VTANG. Recurring topics of taxes, finance, traffic, land use, expansion, F-35’s, noise, and a changing neighborhood continue to pose concerns. The Chamberlin/BTV neighborhood planning committee will work to provide recommendations for a collaborative long-term vision for the neighborhood and its relationship to BIA, which is owned by the City of Burlington. What is the council’s role in the outcome if consensus can’t be reached between competing interests?

The role of the council during difficult conversations is to shepherd compromises through open and transparent communications. I am confident that there will be a consensus reached on most of the topics listed. With the planning grant monies, there is a good start in place and we should move forward in a positive manner. The Burlington Airport has been part of our community since the 1930’s and the Vermont Air National Guard since the 1950’s. Both are integral parts of our economy and represent hundreds of millions of dollars into our community and region. The Airport neighborhood will remain a great place to live, the Airport will continue to serve as Vermont’s gateway to the world and I will support the mission of the VT Air National Guard.

6. Closing Statement

In my 15 years of professional experience at the University of Vermont, Competitive Computing and in my public service, I’ve acquired many skills that apply to being a city councilor. Financial modeling, systems engineering, budgeting, interpersonal skills, and leadership skills to name a few. What qualifies me for this position is much more than my resume - I offer an open mind and positive path forward to continue the progress made in South Burlington over the last two years. I really appreciate all of the support and encouragement I’ve received. I humbly ask for your vote on March 3rd.

Mark your calendar to vote Tuesday, March 3, 2015