Overture Center for the Arts: Do You Really Want More Money?

October 11, 2011 12:51 PM

The spending increase from 2011 to 2012 in the proposed city of Madison budget is $1,000,000, or less than 1%. This was accomplished by significant sacrifices made by many people and agencies.

While the city budget increase is .93%, some are expressing concern that the Overture Center for the Arts is not getting the expected increase in city funding of 66% from $1.265 million to $2 million. The 2012 executive budget recommends $1,325,000.

The proposed 2012 budget works because:

•448 city police officers and 337 firefighters voluntarily agreed to compensation cuts of $2,485,300 to avoid layoffs among their own ranks and the rest of the city workforce.
•Represented city employees, members of Locals 60 and 236, agreed to reduce their own scheduled salary increases by $767,664.
•The funds for the city fleet, mainly heavy equipment, was cut by $3 million.
•The City of Madison and Dane County are laying off five public heath employees who administer the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.
•The State of Wisconsin Voter ID Law is an unfunded mandate that increases next year's budget by $325,000.
•The approximately 50 community service agencies that help the poor are getting the exact same level of funding they received last year - during a period when the agencies need increased funding as demand for their services goes up.
•The city is not making payments into its salary continuation and life insurance funds this year, saving over $1.9 million. This is possible due to the high levels in these funds.
All this was done as we face state reductions in aids to Madison of $4.2 million.

The Madison City Council did make a promise to make a payment to Overture of $2 million for 2012. That was however, before Governor Walker devastated our revenues, broke sixty years of commitment to city employees, and drove up our operating costs for the administration of elections.

Lots of contracts have been broken or re-written as a result of the Walker Administration changes we are facing. The Overture Center is one of the few agencies getting more money than last year. How much more should we take from the others and the taxpayers?

My administration and previous city councils have done an outstanding job funding the arts, including the performing arts. We created the Madison Civic Center, we fund local performers, we have concert programs, and we have other long term commitments.

The Overture Center can find private sources of funding. The City of Madison however, cannot find private sources to fund the Police, Fire, and Health Departments or to keep the streets plowed.


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