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FALK ANNOUNCES BUDGET DECISION

For more information contact:

Sharyn Wisniewski (608) 267-8823

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 11/14/2002

Issued By: County Executive
View only releases from County Executive
County Executive Praises Cooperation; Says 2004 Will be Toughest Year Yet

Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today approved, without any vetoes, the 2003 county budget. The $397.1 million budget includes an operating budget of $374.1 million, and a capital budget of $23 million.

The Dane County Board of Supervisors approved the budget Monday night (11/11/02) in the first of four nights scheduled for deliberations. It is believed to be one of the earliest Dane County Board annual budget approvals on record.

The tax rate for Dane County taxpayers falls 17 cents, from $3.16 to $2.99 per thousand of assessed valuation. The spending increase on the tax levy was held to a low 3.11%, meeting Falk’s self-imposed limit of the combination of inflation (1.67%) plus population growth (1.44%) of the county.

County Executive Falk said, “This 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 swift approval of it. By working together we improved human services, especially to elderly citizens and our neighbors battling disabilities or mental illnesses. We also increased public safety, funding a pilot treatment program for inmates with alcohol and other drug abuse problems, and taking the next steps in Priority Dispatch to streamline response to emergency 911 calls throughout the county.

“I especially want to thank the Personnel and Finance Committee, and its hardworking chair Scott McDonell, for helping craft this budget. Supervisor McDonell helped fashion thoughtful, fair budget compromises among members who have widely varying priorities.”

Falk continued, “Again this year, citizens told me that human services and public safety are their top priorities. Over half of the dollars in the operating budget, $204.3 million, go to pay for human services. In order to fund our priorities, we made over $7 million in cuts in other parts of county government, including $1.8 million in permanent base cuts.”

Examples of key base cuts include:
-- Eliminating about 20 vacant positions, for a savings of about $1 million.
-- 25% cut in LTE (temporary worker) funds, generating a savings of about $272,000.
-- Consolidation of the Department of Public Works and the Division of Facilities Management, resulting in a savings of $90,000.
-- Early retirement – Employees who are eligible for retirement in 2003 will be given the opportunity to increase their sick leave balance with an affordable increment if they retire before July 31, 2003, saving at least $800,000.
-- Across-the-board cuts with savings of over $2 million.
-- Extended vacancies with savings of about $1.8 million.

The budget continues Falk’s self-imposed 5% cut in her own salary and the 3% cut in her staff’s salaries that she instituted in February, saving about $28,000.

Despite the fiscal difficulties, the budget:
-- Adds $50,000 to provide medication and monitoring to an additional 65 individuals with serious and persistent mental illness.
-- Fully funds elderly nutrition programs, provides an increase in transportation for elderly persons, and an additional $25,000 for more case management for the growing senior population.
-- Adds $239,000 to fund the increasing caseload of people with developmental disabilities.
-- Provides an additional $1.5 million to pay the salaries of workers in agencies the county contracts with to serve the elderly, individuals with disabilities, children and families. This includes a general Cost of Living increase of 1% for the Purchase of Service (POS) agencies, and funding of the Living Wage Ordinance, which assures the lowest paid worker receives $8.75 per hour.
-- Keeps the new Courthouse construction on schedule.

Falk completed her remarks with a reminder that the toughest year of work lies ahead, in preparing the 2004 budget. A recently passed state law takes away $4 million of Dane County’s $5.5 million in annual shared revenues it receives from the state. “We face a brutally difficult budget next year. We took important steps in this budget to begin to meet that challenge. We will need to continue that cooperation next year.”

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See Following Fact Sheet



FACT SHEET ON OPERATING BUDGET

Size: $397.1 million

Percent Increase in Levy-Funded Spending: 3.11% (Limited to no more than population growth of 1.44%, and inflation growth of 1.67% of Dane County)

Levy Increase: $2.8 million

Property Tax Rate: $2.99 per thousand (down from $3.16)

Reserve Fund: $8.7 million (an additional $288,817 from last year)

Impact: An increase of about $11 per year (based on a Madison house of approximately $170,000 value)
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