November 09, 2018
Sharon Corrigan, County Board Chair 608.333.2285
County Board

Amendments focus on youth, clean lakes, and inclusive engagement

The Dane County Board’s Personnel and Finance Committee on Wednesday night approved a series of amendments to the budget proposed by County Executive Joe Parisi that include a focus on human services, criminal justice reform, affordable housing and the environment. 


“Throughout this process we have heard about the need to devote more resources to our young people, reduce the size of the jail, and improve water quality in the Yahara Chain of Lakes,” said County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan (District 26, Middleton). “I think these amendments reflect the wishes of the public while also respecting the impact on taxpayers.”


 "People in our communities face many challenges such as homelessness, teen violence or flooding to name a few", said Supervisor Patrick Miles (District 34, McFarland) who chairs the Personnel & Finance Committee. "This budget is about building resiliency to help people tackle those challenges," said Supervisor Patrick Miles (District 34, McFarland).


Major items added to County Executive Parisi’s capital budget include $3 million to the Affordable Housing Fund, bringing the total for 2019 to $6 million. The Board is also adding $1 million to improve water flow in the Yahara River to reduce incidents of flooding. County Executive Parisi proposed $2 million to help address flooding by removing sediment and choking weeds from the river way and the Board would increase that amount.


"Given the devastating and costly impact of this summer's flooding, we need to move as quickly as possible to help facilitate water flow through the system," said Corrigan, noting the Board has established a task force to study long-term measures to reduce water levels in Lake Mendota.


The Board is also adding $12,500 to the operating budget to begin building a model of the amount of phosphorus flowing into area waters. This analysis was one of the recommendations approved in September by the Healthy Farms, Healthy Lakes Task Force, which is working to reduce weed growth in the lakes while protecting the viability of the farm economy in Dane County.


On criminal justice reform, the Board has added more than $350,000 in areas that include continuing pre-trial assessment for offenders, bail monitoring, and a stress test review of the entire system.


“It’s clear that changes on the front end of the system pay off over the long term,” said Corrigan. “There is no single solution to criminal justice reform but I’m proud that Dane County has become recognized as a national leader in this area.”


The Board’s focus on youth is multi-faceted. Amendments add $30,000 to purchase a van for the Department of Land and Water Resources  to be used for outdoors programming. Transportation to county parks has proven a barrier to a youth volunteer program established in 2018. Other programs and events related to community engagement would have use of the van, including watershed tours and committee tours.


The Board is also expanding the “Lake Science, Stewards and Recreation Program” established in last year’s budget. The program served 3rd to 5th grade youth who live at Bayview Townhouses but would be expanded to grades K-12. The program is designed to educate low-income children about the environment and conservation while teaching them boating skills and water safety. Instruction will be provided by Brittingham Boats staff. 


“Dane County is blessed with beautiful lakes, parks and natural areas but too many of our young people – even those who want to volunteer – can’t easily get to these places,” said Corrigan. “Expanding access to these resources fits into our broader vision of community outreach.”


Cognizant of the growing need to interrupt community violence, the County Board has added two Neighborhood Intervention Program leaders, as well as funding for community measures to address violence at LaFollette High School. 


The Board is also adding a position to, more effectively and inclusively engage the Dane County community with an initiative called “Engage Dane.”


“We realize that many people are unable to attend or watch meetings so the Board has decided to build on past efforts and craft a regular and robust approach to inclusive engagement,” said Corrigan.


In addition, the Board has proposed adding funds to complete a pre-design study for the Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center as well as a storm water run-off analysis for the site.  This continues the work to redevelop this important county asset.


 Funding to maintain vital transportation corridors also received Board attention.  An amendment provides increased funding for the reconstruction of Fish Hatchery Road.


The full County Board will deliberate these changes to the 2019 budget on Monday Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.  in Room 201 of the City-County Building.