Not Just Running In Place
October 5, 2010 2:26 PM
Today I introduced my proposed 2011 operating budget. While we made some hard choices, there will be no noticeable cuts in services. No cuts in police or fire, no changes in how we plow snow, fix streets or pick up garbage, no closing of ice rinks or beaches, no service cuts or fare increases at Metro and no change in library hours.
So, part of our accomplishment is what we didn't do. Unlike many other cities across the country, we've been able to maintain a high level of services throughout three straight years of Great Recession-era budgets.
But we also are moving the city forward, doing some innovative things with the scarce resources we have. In partnership with the county, we're expanding a successful pilot program to combat crime by treating it as a public health issue, working to build stronger, more cohesive neighborhoods. We're creating a new prescription drug disposal program because access to old prescriptions is too often the entry point of heroine addictions, the leading drug problem in our city today.
We're creating a new police unit with four detectives focused on repeat offenders. The Madison Police Department has identified a few dozen offenders who commit perhaps half the crimes in our community. If we can stay after this relative handful of career criminals, we might see a big drop in our already low crime rate.
My budget creates a new position in Community Services to pursue private foundation and state and federal grant opportunities. Over time, this means that the position will leverage a lot more resources than it costs.
In the Streets Division, we're going to be installing pavement sensors to allow us to more accurately calibrate use of strategies to fight winter storms. We've also installed spray devices on four trucks to put down brine on major thoroughfares just before a storm hits so that melting snow does not adhere to the pavement when temperatures plunge after the storm.
We've made it this far through the Great Recession without slashing services or increasing taxes too dramatically. I expect the City Council will review my budget thoroughly and, of course, they'll make some changes, but if we can keep the tax increase on the average house below 5% while accomplishing all these things, that will be a good day's work.