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Dane County Faces Budget Challenge, Not Deficit

For more information contact:

Sharyn Wisniewski, 267-8823

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 2/7/2002

Issued By: County Executive
View only releases from County Executive
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today issued the following statement clarifying the budget challenges faced by Dane County:

I want to assure the citizens of Dane County that the county budget does not have a deficit. The County's 2002 Budget is balanced, and we fully expected to end 2002 without having to make any mid-year adjustments—until the Governor proposed two weeks ago to immediately eliminate shared revenue, taking $5.5 million from our county this year.

Unlike the State, the County does not have to adjust its budget to make up for a structural deficit. However, with $5,740,000 in state cuts staring us in the face ($5.5 million in shared revenue; $240,000 caused by the Governor reneging on a promise to contribute $240,000 per year to the debt service on expansion of the Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center), we must take measures this year to prepare the County to withstand the loss of funds.

As we look to the year after this, to 2003, we are doing the proactive planning that the State should have done itself to avoid the state’s budget fiscal crisis. We have estimated a budget challenge of between $7.2 million and $22.6 million, and are planning this year for how to overcome that challenge for 2003.

The challenges we confront in 2003 are largely the result of a growing population and declining State aid. This aid has not kept pace with the cost of providing services for several years, and we have been fortunate to have burgeoning sales tax revenue to replace state aid.

The projected 2003 Budget challenge is the reason we created the Long Range Financial Planning Committee, to help identify spending priorities for 2003.

We face a challenge every year in putting together our budget. It is getting harder every year, but we meet the challenge every year. During my term, I have met my self-created and self-imposed target of having a levy increase no higher than the rate of inflation plus population. Dane is one of only two Wisconsin counties with the highest bond rating, a AAA rate, unlike the State’s rating, which was recently downgraded.

The State budget faces a deficit. Dane County’s 2002 budget is balanced. Our 2003 budget will be balanced. The distinction is important.

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