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FALK APPROVES COUNTY BUDGET

For more information contact:

Sharyn Wisniewski, 267-8823

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 11/12/2004

Issued By: County Executive
View only releases from County Executive
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today (11/12/04) approved the Dane County Operating & Capital Budgets for 2005 without any vetoes.

Falk said: “I fully approve the county budget because it improves human services, public safety, and the protection of natural resources while controlling property taxes.”

She continued: “I appreciate the County Board’s willingness to work with me to produce a good budget for Dane County residents. Our citizens expect elected officials to work together for the common good, and that’s what the County Board and I accomplished. I am especially grateful for the work of Supervisors Richard Brown and Scott McDonell. As Chair of the Personnel & Finance Committee, Supervisor Brown always insisted that any addition to the budget be funded by cuts in other areas or with reliable, new revenues other than taxes. Supervisor McDonell worked tirelessly behind the scenes to forge the compromises that led to such fast and unanimous agreement on this budget at the Wednesday, November 10, County Board meeting.”

“Many other supervisors deserve credit. For example, the chairs of the Board’s standing committees (Supervisors Olsen, Gross, Ripp, Richmond, and Hitzemann) had their committees complete their work in a positive and timely fashion. As always, I appreciate Chairman Kesterson’s provision of a well-organized and fair budget process.”

The Operating Budget, the Capital Budget, and the Tax Levy resolutions all passed on voice votes. There were no dissenting votes on the Operating Budget and Tax Levy.

As passed by the Board and approved by the County Executive, the budget limits the increase in the levy to 3.49%. That means this budget meets the County Executive’s goal of limiting increases in the levy to the rate of inflation plus the rate of population growth, which this year was 3.49% (inflation of 2.26% + population growth of 1.23%). Falk said: “The budget I presented to the Board on October 1st limited the increase in levy to 3.49%; I very much appreciate the Board’s maintaining that fiscal restraint.” The mill rate declines from $2.89 to $2.70 per thousand dollars of assessed value. Total spending in the operating and capital budgets totals almost $413 million, which marks a 3.37% increase over 2004.

Falk noted: “Because of variables among municipal governments in Dane County, one cannot estimate the impact of this rate on the average Dane County homeowner. Traditionally, we provide that figure for the owner of an average Madison home. Under this budget, the average county property tax rate on a Madison home of $205,859 value (this year’s average) would produce an increase of $6.86.”

Falk further noted that she worked with the Board to make the following improvements to the budget (in all cases, the improvements are funded with increases in federal, state or county revenue, other than levy, or with corresponding cuts in other budget items):

Human Services
· An additional $90,000 in emergency services to persons with developmental disabilities.
· An additional $50,000 to improve services for victims of domestic abuse, people with mental illnesses, the homeless, and disabled people awaiting federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) determinations.

Public Safety
· One 911 dispatcher added to the additional 911 dispatcher and new 911 trainer included in the County Executive’s proposed budget.
· A forensic social worker to investigate cases of child abuse.
· Additional sheriff deputies and clerical staff for the Sheriff to operate the Traffic Safety Team and central holding cell in the new Courthouse.

Natural Resources
· Clerical and administrative support for new federal and county soil conservation and lake improvement programs.
· Full restoration of the Parks intern program.

Falk then listed the examples of important provisions in the budget she presented to the Board:

Human Services
· Continuation of vocational and supportive services to young adults with developmental disabilities as they leave the public education system and continuation of immediate services to adults who suffer seriously disabling brain injuries.
· An additional social worker to investigate physical, mental, or financial abuse of elderly residents.
· An additional $900,000 for mental health services.
· Increased funding for the Purchase of Service (POS) agencies that are important partners in the County’s delivery of human services. Because direct care workers who earn more than the living wage ($9.07 in 2005) but still receive modest wages have seldom received raises, these agencies face more turnover of staff and less reliable service for clients. The budget addresses this problem by increasing funding to the POS agencies with a 1% increase to workers who earn less than $13.60 an hour.

Public Safety

Falk commented: “By working with the Board and Sheriff, we have changed the Traffic Safety Team so that the Sheriff feels more comfortable implementing it. When the Traffic Safety Team completes its training and starts its work, we all hope the results are safer travel and fewer fatalities in Dane County.” Other important steps in public safety included funding in the Capital Budget for continued work on the County’s new Huber and AODA Treatment Center and the new Juvenile Detention Center.

Natural Resources
· The Capital Budget funds a cost-sharing program with municipalities around the Yahara chain of lakes to improve old storm sewers so they can filter out debris and trap some sediment.
· The budget funds stream bank restoration projects. Stream bank restoration improves water quality and fish habitat.
· The budget begins a three-year program to replace aging weed cutter barges and will make use of state reimbursement to do so.
· A dredging project at the Mud Lake railroad trestle will improve the ability to move water through the system, especially during high water conditions.
· The Capital Budget returns to the traditional level of spending for the New Conservation Fund -- $3 million. With the Old Conservation Fund maintained at about $646,000, the County will be able to protect threatened land and water.

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