Dane County Executive Parisi Announces 2017 Budget: An Investment for our Future
September 29, 2016
Stephanie Miller: 608-267-8823
MADISON- Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi introduced his 2017 budget: An Investment for our Future. The budget totals just over $584,565,045, and comes in about $500,000 under the state imposed levy cap. This is within the strict cost controls put on Dane County by state law. Dane County’s reserve fund totals over $30 million, built up from zero when he took office, improving the county’s financial standing for the future. Dane County has a AAA bond rating accomplished through strict budgeting standards, efficiencies, partnerships and innovation.
“My 2017 budget makes unprecedented investments in compassionate services for our most vulnerable, infrastructure critical to continued economic vitality and safety, along with a quality of life that creates an environment where new families and businesses flourish,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “The efforts this budget undertakes reflect our community’s values we hold so dear. Good wages, educational achievement, reducing economic and racial disparities, improved mental health, cleaner waters and conservation, safer roads for both cars and bikes, and housing for those who have fallen on hard times.”
In addition to the below initiatives, the 2017 county budget is built on preserving what is important to Dane County residents. It includes:
--significant breakthrough in lakes clean-up effort that will result in cleaner lakes decades sooner
-- addition of a Northside Early Childhood Zone to help stabilize families and invest in our children’s future
--- creation of an Office of Energy and Climate Change, tripling the county’s solar commitment and continuing to convert the county fleet to clean burning CNG
-- continuing to invest in the Access to Opportunity Initiative to break down barriers to success
--strong investments in services for children, families, seniors and our community members with developmental disabilities and mental illness.
In his budget for this year, County Executive Parisi expanded the number of mental health teams working with kids, families, and teachers in local schools. Parisi created this program in his 2014 budget as his most significant policy initiative of that budget. At the time, the initiative was the first in the state and seen as an innovative step towards addressing mental health for our youth.
In Dane County Executive Parisi’s 2017 budget, he is adding a fourth Mental Health Crisis team for the Madison School District to ensure all four high school attendance areas have access to critical mental health services before a crisis occurs. The new team will focus exclusively on the LaFollette attendance area and be jointly funded by the school district and county.
County Executive Parisi is adding funds to partner with more school districts outside of Madison to expand upon the highly successful efforts to date. Since starting the first Dane County Mental Health Crisis Teams in 2013, hundreds of students and families across Dane County in the Madison, Verona, Sun Prairie, and most recently the Middleton-Cross Plains, DeForest, and Wisconsin Heights School Districts have benefited from this program. The Waunakee, Mount Horeb and Deerfield School Districts have all expressed an interest in partnering to add teams in 2017. With an additional $153,000 being added for new school based mental teams in 2017, Dane County’s commitment to improving the mental health and educational experience of young people totals $481,925.
Additionally, Dane County Executive Parisi is bolstering the Community Crisis Response program through an additional $100,000 in the 2017 budget. A year ago, County Executive Parisi added $82,000 to this effort to ensure law enforcement had more resources at their disposal to defuse situations precipitated by mental health emergencies.
“The effects of mental illness are far reaching, affecting classrooms, families, and workplaces,” said County Executive Parisi. “Dane County is stepping up and increasing our commitment to get help to those in need and address mental health challenges. I am thrilled this program has resulted in such success for our youth struggling with mental health issues.”
Gangs and Gun Violence:
Increasing incidents of gun violence in our community illustrate the need for a continued focus on prevention. That’s why Dane County Executive Parisi is proposing an additional team leader to the Dane County Gang Response Intervention Unit. There will now be one at each of the Madison School District’s high school attendance areas. These trained professionals will be assigned to the highest needs areas and work directly with our youth.
“Our additional investment into our Gang Response Intervention Unit will help steer more kids on a better path,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Building up a support system for young people whose growing up experiences are complicated by poverty, addiction, and unstable living environments helps them steer clear of gangs and other unproductive outlets.”
Through the first seven months of this year the Madison Fire Department responded to 288 calls for suspected heroin and opiate overdoses. That was two and a half times greater than the same number of those incidents reported thru July of 2015. In the six weeks leading up to the introduction of this budget, there were 60 overdose calls across Dane County - an average of 10 per week. Here and across the country, heroin and opiate abuse is a public health and public safety crisis of critical proportion.
Counter-acting medications, intensive treatment and most importantly dedication and persistence on the part of the addict and his or her family is the only path to recovery.
In his 2017 budget, Dane County Executive Parisi is doubling the District Attorney’s Opiates Deferred Prosecution Program, allowing the county to get twice as many people facing opiate related charges into treatment and rehabilitation.
“Getting people to choose and stay on that path is the greatest challenge,” said Dane County Executive Parisi. “Alcohol and Drug Treatment programs are available through the County but alone will not solve the problem. We must be sure to take full advantage of opportunities to guide those burdened by addiction to the help they need.”
Increasing Support for Care Providers:
For the second year in a row, the County Executive’s budget includes an increase for agencies that provide direct care for those most vulnerable in our community. This nearly $750,000 increase helps local non-profit social service providers better care for their employees. The Executive’s budget also includes more than $1.1 million needed next year to phase in a $15 an hour minimum wage for those who provide care and services on county contracts.
With over $2.4 million invested in services and millions more now committed to a Day Resource Center at the site of the Chamber of Commerce Building, Dane County is continuing the commitment to helping address homelessness in the 2017 budget. With necessary city approvals and remodeling due to be completed next summer, my budget fully funds Day Resource Center operations for 2017 at $330,000.
Three years ago, Dane County Executive Parisi created a new fund to help the Joining Forces for Families (JFF) better keep families in their homes. Last year County Executive Parisi doubled this “Eviction Prevention Fund” out of a highlighted need to stabilize living situations for families with school aged kids. This year, the program is on track to help keep over 200 families and 400 kids in their homes. 88% of the families we have helped through this program in 2016 have been African American, Latino, or Asian.
Given the effectiveness of the “Eviction Prevention Fund,” Dane County Executive Parisi is once again doubling this fund in 2017 to $100,000.
Consistent with priorities identified in the Community Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, this budget provides additional resources to get people off the streets and into housing. We need to make sure people in need of services know what’s available to them in our community. The 2017 budget expands the capabilities of the “Housing Hotline,” adding two new staff members to help better connect homeless individuals with existing services, while improving community outreach and education. This initiative totals $90,000 and is designed to improve coordination and communication of service delivery.
Dane County Executive Parisi’s proposal also contains $80,000 in new county money to create two full-time housing locators to work proactively at identifying available housing - one to help single adults, the other to work with families. Locators reach out to landlords in an effort to develop and maintain relationships in order to shorten the length of homelessness that people experience by increasing the number of units available. They also educate property owners and managers about housing programs and the need. These new positions can build upon our progress made at helping our community’s homeless veterans. To date we have housed 151 veterans.
The City of Madison requested Dane County Executive Parisi include $1 million for the acquisition and development of a third joint housing project involving the County and City. The first effort on Rethke Avenue created housing for 60 adults. The second project on Tree Lane is focused on getting dozens of families into housing. This newest site slated for 2017 proposes the creation of more single housing units. The 2017 Budget also includes $2 million for the Dane County Affordable Housing Fund to continue to assist community partners in creating new opportunities to fulfill the goals of the “Housing First” initiative.
“Homelessness is a complex problem that no one entity can solve alone,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Dane County is once again stepping up our efforts to help our community’s most vulnerable.”
Dane County Executive Parisi is adding to the budget to expedite road projects in areas long overdue for resurfacing and repair. These projects have been engineered to include paved bike lanes wherever possible. All told, Dane County Executive Parisi’s budget adds nearly 25 miles of on-road, newly paved bike lanes in addition to reconstructing major thoroughfares in partnership with communities like the City of Middleton and Village of Waunakee. The 2017 highway budget adds a total of five new positions to the Highway Department. This demonstrated commitment to safer, better maintained roads through all seasons.
To increase bike path access, Dane County Executive Parisi included over $2 million for three major new off-trail projects along with more staff to accelerate design and engineering work.
“This budget is my largest investment yet into reconstructing our aging county highways and investing in bike paths,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Our bike paths are a reason people love living in Dane County and are an important part of our transportation and recreation infrastructure. We need to do all we can to make biking as safe as possible for bikes and motorists.”
The budget increases taxes on the average Madison home (valued at $254,593 ) by $19.61 or 2.5%. County taxes represent about 15% of an individual’s total property tax bill.