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Dane County Budget Responds to Pressing Needs

For more information contact:

County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan, 608.333.2285

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 11/17/2014

Issued By: County Board Supervisors
View only releases from County Board Supervisors

Approved Spending Plan Adds Funding to Expand Affordable Housing, Improve Emergency Response, Address Inequity

 

The Dane County Board of Supervisors tonight approved an operating budget of about $530 million for 2015 and a capital budget of just under $41.7 million, both of which included significant amendments that reflect ongoing County Board priorities.

 

“This budget is all about progress,” Corrigan said. “It addresses our most pressing needs, moving Dane County forward toward better emergency response, fewer people in homelessness and smarter criminal justice. We’re taking on all these new initiatives while keeping up our infrastructure, caring for our most vulnerable citizens and remaining respectful of our hardworking taxpayers. I’m proud of the work we’ve done and thank all the citizens who provided their input and support through the budget process.”

 

The Board expanded several allocations in County Executive Joe Parisi’s proposed budget, including a significant increase to the allocation for affordable housing from $750,000 to $2 million.  The funding in 2015 will be the first of a four year investment of $2 million per year through 2018 to a new Affordable Housing Fund, similar to the County’s on-going support to the SMART Sustainability Fund and Conservation Fund. The budget states that thirty percent of the Affordable Housing Fund is intended to support projects outside the City of Madison.

 

“This budget leaves no doubt of this board’s commitment to addressing the need for housing services in Dane County,” Corrigan said. In addition to establishing the Affordable Housing Fund, the Board added funding for Briarpatch Youth Services to open a facility for homeless youth by midyear, and approved $80,000 for Bethel Lutheran Church in downtown Madison to operate a homeless day shelter five days a week, while Porchlight continues to operate a similar facility on Martin Street in the Town of Madison seven days a week.

 

“Dane County is a great place to live for most of us. The challenge is that's not a universal prosperity," said Supervisor Jeff Pertl, the chair of the Personnel and Finance Committee. “When I look at this budget, I see a commitment to be an engine of opportunity with regard to housing and homelessness. It is not a problem we can solve on our own but it is essential that we become a partner in these efforts.”

 

The Board’s budget amendments also aim to continue the County’s work on racial inequity, particularly in the criminal justice system. A $43,000 amendment will be used to begin work on a data-driven pretrial decision making process to help determine which defendants should be kept in jail and which could be safely released on bond. Another $20,000 will fund a pilot project to include input from community members to assess the benefits of using body-worn video cameras by Sheriff’s deputies.

 

The Board also expanded Parisi’s allocation of $200,000 to “pre-hire” five new 911 operators in order to have new operators ready to step in when positions come open. The Board added $69,000 to pre-hire two additional operators, expanding the pool to seven. The Board also addressed emergency services by approving an additional $3 million in capital expenditures and over $275,000 in operating dollars for more radio towers to allow municipal first responders better communication in emergencies.

 

A number of budget initiatives also address environmental concerns, including adding money to the  Conservation Fund for purposes of land purchase, dollars for water quality and renewable energy projects and for local communities to build and expand bicycle paths.

 

"This budget continues our commitment to caring for our priceless natural resources," said Supervisor Chuck Erickson, a member of the Lakes and Watershed Commission. "This is a critical investment for Dane County especially. One of the really special things about this county is our mix of urban and rural lands and communities. We simply can't afford to lose that, so I'm proud that we we're investing in land, water quality and renewable energy, as well as ways for people to enjoy those resources."

 

“This is a fiscally responsible budget that does good things, particularly in the areas of affordable housing, public safety, racial equity and environmental stewardship,” said Corrigan.  “The County Board has built on the budget that County Executive Parisi proposed on October 1, but still keeps the increase in the property tax levy at the same rate as proposed by the County Executive."

 

The amended budget now awaits Parisi’s signature.

 

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