Alder Barbara Harrington-McKinney
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Harrington-McKinney’s Updates
Common Purpose: Shared Priorities
To: District 1 Constituents
From: Alder Harrington-McKinney
I attended the National League of Cities (NLC), held here in Madison. Elected, appointed officials and city administrators from across the country met over three days discussing today's complex societal and community problems-from infrastructure to public safety to public health-requiring a collaborative, multi-sector effort. Core theme of the conference was that private sector, federal, state and local government and the nonprofit community must all work together to generate and implement creative and effective solutions. The three-day program brought together leaders and practitioners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors to explore collaborative, multi-sector leadership. Valuable perspectives were gained on the different sectors and how working in collaboration was critical to address some of today's complex problems.
I share here two opinions from the robust discussions at last week's Board of Estimates meeting on the priorities for the City of Madison. I welcome your input into these conversations.
LETTER FROM MAYOR SOGLIN:
Council President Verveer and Members of the Common Council:
On Monday night, the Board of Estimates decided to move up the Midtown Police District and Fire Station 14 projects. As you know, the implications of these projects are not solely limited to the City borrowing to design and construct new facilities at a cost of over $16 million, but also involve significant operating costs at a time when we have few revenue options and on-going concerns about property taxes for businesses, families and seniors.
The Midtown Police District will require nearly $1 million in additional annual operating costs in 2018.
Staffing and equipping Fire Station 14 will cost $1.2 million in 2018 and another $750,000 in 2019.
These two projects together will require $2.2 million of tax levy in 2018. Meeting these additional operating costs will mean fewer investments is n other critical programs that help achieve equity and economic growth in our City. Using all of the City's levy limit authority, together with rising debt service for an expanding capital budget, the City taxes on a typical home could go up 5.5%, or by $133, in 2018, and the budget would still not be in balance.
Assuming our economy continues to grow and new construction value is added at the current rate of 2% annually, the levy limit for operating purposes could increase approximately $6 million.
Keeping our current operations going will cost $6 million, primarily for pay increases, wage equity, and fringe benefit costs.
The operating costs for Midtown and Fire Station 14 create a $2.2 million deficit. In addition, while we have been fortunate in the past few years with health insurance and pension costs – those positive trends could change, adding to budget pressures.
We have very few options besides the property tax. Even short-term federal grants leave the City eventually paying the entire operating cost.
Public safety services are most definitely a priority – since 1999, public safety staffing has grown more than twice as fast the rest of City government.
But we also plow snow, pick up garbage and recycling, clear leaves and brush, install street and traffic lights, ensure fair elections and safe dwellings, and invest in equity by paying to operate libraries, parks, neighborhood centers, clinics and buses.
We cannot build both a police station and a fire station in a one- to two-year period and simply absorb it in the operating budget. Other programs, aspirations, expectations and goals for our residents will have to be curtailed and set-aside.
While my 2017 executive operating budget adds 4 new police patrol officers by funding the former Education Resource Officers from the City tax levy, I did not provided operations funding for either the Midtown Station or Fire Station 14 in my 2017 executive operating budget. According to the Police and Fire Departments, $500,000 is needed in 2017 to begin recruiting, hiring, training and equipping 34 new positions for these two new facilities (7 at Midtown and 27 at Fire Station 14).
Paul R. Soglin
Support for MidTown Station
BLOG POSTED by:
ALDER DAVID AHRENS
October 1, 2016 2:18 PM
Police Stations, Fire Stations and a Public Market:
Every year we write two budgets; the capital budget which is mostly for roads, buildings and heavy equipment and the operating budget which is almost entirely for salaries for staff. Each of the budgets is about $270,000,000.
The city borrows the money for the capital budget but pays for the operating budget from our taxes and fees. When we borrow money we get a very low interest rate of about 1%. (This low interest rate can entice us to borrow more.)
The city is growing (we'll soon go over 250,000 people) and our 50 year old infrastructure is getting old. The problem with attempting to construct all of the buildings we need is two-fold: first, the on-going and increasing debt and second, a large increase in the capital budget for facilities (but not roads) can often cause an even greater increase in the operating budget because after their built we have to "staff them".
For the 2017 budget, the council will consider three building proposals: a new police station on the near Westside (Midtown) at a cost of $8 million, a new fire and EMS station in the southeast at a cost of $5 million and a public market on E. Johnson ($9 million).
In addition to the cost of construction, these projects would require substantial new operating costs. The new Fire Station would require an additional $1.2 million in 2018 and an additional $750,000 in 2019 when it is fully staffed. The new Police Station will cost an additional $1 million in staffing.
Operating costs for the Public Market is estimated at least $500,000 in annual subsidies in the first two years and an unknown amount in subsequent years.
These projects add up to about $3 million in additional costs. For every budget we should plan on paying higher costs for fuel, insurance, equipment and have the capacity to address unplanned problems. If we want to keep tax increases to no more than 2% it is clear that we cannot do it all.
From the information now available, I will support the addition of a new Midtown police station. This will take pressure off the largest station on the far west side. Much of the violent crime and population growth is in that area and they need the additional staff. This has been under discussion for many years and now is the time to get to work.
A new fire station in the Femrite area would indirectly benefit much of the 15th District because it would reduce the area serviced by Station #5 (on Cottage Grove Rd). I also recognize that residents there must wait longer for service than most of the rest of the city. While the population is growing in that area it may not merit a new station at this time. But the major reason is that we will not be able to afford all of the additions in staff costs in 2018. I think that if we are postponing essential services such as fire protection services then we should hold off on the Public Market. This would be a nice addition to the community but it is not a necessity. Previously, the Council decided that two-thirds of the funding must come from non-city funds such as the federal government. None of the funds have been granted. Nonetheless, the Mayor has insisted that we go forward with the Public Market while rejecting both the Police and Fire stations. I hope the Council rejects this backwards sense of priorities. We will start reviewing the Operating Budget next week and have many meetings throughout October until we vote on the budget on Nov.14-15. So there's plenty of time to hear your views on the budget and city priorities.
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