Falk Announces Budget Decisions

November 21, 2001
Sharyn Wisniewski, 267-8823
County Executive

Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today (11/21/01) approved the 2002 Dane County Operating Budget of $381 million. She partially vetoed the Capital Budget to allow the planning of secure treatment facilities for inmates with alcohol and drug abuse problems while stopping the three-floor, $42 million expansion of the Public Safety Building. Falk said: “The budget both limits taxes and improves services for Dane County residents. I appreciate the Board’s cooperation in working on a difficult budget, and their approval of the budget largely as I proposed it on October 1st.” Highlights of the operating budget include: The increase in the property tax levy was held to 4.55%. This meets Falk’s self-imposed goal of limiting property tax levy growth to an increase not greater than the rate of inflation plus the rate of population growth (in 2001, 4.55%). Reserves increased by approximately $1.33 million to $8.6 million. This means the Reserve Fund will go from 2.65 to 3%. “In light of the uncertain economy, the state’s budget difficulties, and the need to preserve the County’s AAA bond rating, it makes good sense to increase our Reserve,” Falk said. “I appreciate the hard work of Supervisor Larry Olson and the opportunity to work with him and other Board members in reaching that goal.” Improved human services including additional transportation and meal services for seniors, two new Youth Resource Centers, better services for families battling mental illness or other major problems, and significant funding increases for adults with developmental disabilities. Falk commented: “One of the most important improvements in human services is the 3% increase for the salaries of the lowest wage earners in organizations we contract with to deliver services that enable citizens to live and remain active in our communities.” Funding for the Lussier Family Heritage Center and the Centennial Park. Major improvements to the 911 system including an additional operator, implementation of Priority Medical Dispatch, and a new communications tower in the DeForest area. Implementation of new stormwater regulations to protect Dane County’s lakes and rivers. Falk partially vetoed language added to the Capital Budget to begin planning a three-floor jail expansion of the jail in the Public Safety Building. The Sheriff has estimated the cost of this project at approximately $42 million. Falk’s veto enables the county to move forward with planning secure treatment facilities and programs for jail inmates with alcohol and drug abuse (AODA) problems. Falk said: “By planning, building, and implementing programs and facilities for inmates with AODA problems, we’ll make progress toward four important goals. We will help reduce overcrowding in our jail. We will improve public safety. A lot of the people who keep returning to jail will stop that destructive misconduct when they stop abusing alcohol or drugs. We will save money. While AODA treatment and facilities will cost money, it will not be $42 million. We will reclaim lives. Ending up in jail over and over because of a drinking or drug problem is a terrible waste of human life and can destroy a family.” In her veto message, Falk directed the County’s Department of Administration (DOA) to begin the process of planning for the AODA treatment programs and facilities with the involvement of the Sheriff, District Attorney, Judges, defense attorneys, and experts in treatment. DOA is to complete the first phase of this effort by July 1st, 2002. Attached is a copy of Falk’s veto message which provides additional information and detail and a fact sheet on the Operating Budget.