County Executive Falk, County Board Supervisors Announce Budget Highlights: Major Expansion of Conservation Fund and Increases to Human Services and Public Safety
September 27, 2005
Madison – Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, joined by members of the Dane County Board of Supervisors, today announced several highlights of the 2006 county budget, including a major expansion of $5 million for the Conservation Fund and improvements to youth and senior services. Falk will release the full 2006 budget on Thursday, September 29, 2005.
“Protecting natural resources, improving human services and preserving public safety are what people care most about – this budget carries out citizen priorities.”
The county is halfway through its 10-year new Conservation Fund, overwhelmingly favored by a referendum in 1999 by Dane County residents to buy parks and open spaces and to preserve lakes, rivers, streams, prairies, wetlands and forests. Using the new Conservation Fund, Dane County has partnered with local groups and governments to preserve areas important to communities. The $5 million announced today for this budget represents the largest amount devoted to the Conservation Fund in a one-year budget and brings the total in county allocations to the fund to $22,750,000 (since the 2000 budget), with a 10-year goal of $30,000,000. So far, the total acres acquired since 2000 are 5,331, just over halfway to the 10-year, 9,000 acre goal.
“With the cost of land prices in Dane County rising rapidly, it is even more important that we dedicate this money to purchase land that county residents want to preserve before it is developed,” said Falk.
“The $5 million for the conservation fund is a long-term investment in our community that will help ensure Dane County’s legacy of having some of the best waters and lands in the country,” said Supervisor Scott McDonell, First Vice-Chair of the County Board of Supervisors.
Other environmental initiatives that help protect our water resources include $230,000 for the purchase of one completely new weed cutter and two thoroughly renovated cutters, $100,000 for streambank restoration projects to mitigate the effects of erosion and protect our lakes and $100,000 to partner with local municipalities for storm sewer rehabilitation projects. Falk also reallocated an additional person in the Land and Water Resources Department for planning and increased funding for the county’s comprehensive planning process.
Falk also proposed increasing funding in the human services department, focusing on programs for youth, seniors, people with disabilities, mental health and AODA treatment.
Specifically, the budget includes first-time ever funding for New Directions, a center that helps connect mentally ill people with community resources ($20,000) and for Kajsiab House, a resource for Hmong adults, especially those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder ($20,000). The funding for New Directions should help reduce waiting lists for citizens in need of mental health services. She also added 10 new slots for the popular Drug Court jail diversion program. Drug Court has a long waiting list, so adding slots will help additional county residents deal with drug addiction problems without going to jail ($35,000).
For seniors, Falk added money for transportation funds and eliminated proposed fees for seniors for services, including;
· Provided funds for seniors in North East Dane for transportation, so that area of the county is not underserved ($17,500).
· Eliminated proposed fees for seniors receiving county services ($10,000).
· Eliminated proposed fees for people with a limited income and significant disabilities to receive help to manage their personal finances ($84,000)
· Restored the Recreation and Volunteer Supervisor at Badger Prairie Health Care Center, who supervises the Center's Recreation Therapy Aides, coordinates events for the Center's residents, recruits/trains/oversees the work of volunteers ($76,493).
· Adding funds for a 1% increase in hourly wages for among the lowest paid home care workers for people with disabilities ($200,000).
· Total Human Services package is $462,993
For youth, Falk reallocated one full-time position to join the one proposed by the Human Services department to work on reducing gangs in Dane County and added $4,200 to youth resource centers in Dane County.
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Lesley Sillaman, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606