Funding for Neighborhood Improvements

Neighborhood Improvement Funding

After your neighborhood association has identified neighborhood improvement projects, the next steps are to develop a project plan and identify potential funding sources. Neighborhood improvements often require funding from a range of sources including public, private, and non-profit agencies. The key steps in exploring funding alternatives are to: 1) identify potential funding sources; 2) develop reasonable funding requests based on funding criteria established by funding agencies; and 3) approach funding agencies at strategic times during budget process or funding cycle timelines.

In addition to building funding partnerships with the City of Madison, neighborhood associations should continually explore funding partnerships with neighborhood residents and businesses, local non-profit organizations, and other public, private, and non-profit agencies that provide funding for civic improvement projects.

Budget Process Requests

The City budget outlines the City of Madison’s funding priorities. The annual City budget is comprised of two parts: the operating budget and the capital budget. The operating budget supports the daily operations of City government, including employee salaries and wages, supplies, and equipment. The capital budget supports infrastructure improvements such as street and sidewalk repairs, land and building acquisitions, and physical improvements to City properties such as park playground equipment.

The annual budget process starts in January, when City agencies begin preparing requested budgets. Agencies submit requested budgets to the Mayor’s Office by June. The Mayor’s Office combines and amends requested agency budgets into an overall City budget by September. The Common Council holds public hearings on the Mayor’s proposed budget, votes on proposed budget amendments, and passes the finalized City budget by November. A calendar of the budget process is available from the Finance Department beginning in May.

Budget Requests

Neighborhood associations can participate in the City budget process in three main ways. First, neighborhood associations can contact Alderpersons to discuss the City budget process and effective advocacy strategies. Second, neighborhood associations can contact specific City agencies between January and June to discuss funding for particular neighborhood improvements. Third, neighborhood association representatives can attend public meetings/hearings held by the Common Council and City Boards, Commissions, and Committees during the budget process.

How To Get Started:

v     Identify budget request(s). Identify the neighborhood improvement(s) for which you wish to request funding. Prioritize your list of improvements in order to focus on priority issues.

v     Discuss budget requests with your district Alderperson and appropriate City staff. Contact your district Alderperson to request his/her support for your budget request and to discuss advocacy strategies. Also contact appropriate City staff to discuss the likelihood of funding for your request and determine its consistency with existing policies.

v     Develop a strategy to advocate for your budget request(s). Advocating for budget requests entails contacting Alderpersons and City staff to describe why your budget request is important for your neighborhood. With the help of your Alderperson, make a list of the appropriate City agencies, Boards, Commissions, and Committees to contact concerning your neighborhood improvement priorities. Also prepare a timeline which outlines when you plan to contact specific agencies and personnel.

v     Submit funding request to appropriate City agency between January and June. The early stage of the budget process is where neighborhood associations can often have the most impact on the priorities identified in the City budget. Since each City agency faces budget constraints, the initial list of items proposed for budget consideration must be narrowed and prioritized before the City budget is ultimately approved by the Common Council. The earlier you submit your neighborhood improvement requests, the more consideration they are likely to receive in this ongoing process of prioritization.

v     Attend appropriate Board/ Commission/Committee meeting(s) and hearing(s). Between January and June, many City Boards, Commissions, and Committees hold public meetings and hearings to discuss budget priorities. Ask your district Alderperson and City staff to describe effective ways for your neighborhood association to advocate for your neighborhood priorities at this stage of the budget process.

v     Review the Executive Budget. Based on the Mayor’s policy priorities and the budgets proposed by each City agency, the Mayor prepares an “Executive Budget” that is submitted to the Common Council by September. A summary of the “Executive Budget” is printed in either the Wisconsin State Journal or The Capital Times. Copies of the Executive Budget are available at the Municipal Reference Service and local public library branches.

v     Attend Common Council budget hearings. Between September and November, the Common Council holds at least two public hearings on the City budget. At this stage of the budget process, neighborhood associations can advocate for neighborhood priorities by submitting written comments to the Common Council and/or speaking at the Common Council hearing(s). Contact the Common Council Office beginning in September to find out hearing dates and how to submit written comments and/or register to speak at a hearing.

v     Prepare for future budget processes. The City cannot provide funding for every neighborhood improvement proposed throughout the budget process. However, neighborhood associations should keep in mind that advocating for City funding for particular neighborhood improvements is an ongoing process that often requires more than one budget cycle.


Finance Department

City-County Building, Rm. 406

210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

Madison, WI, 53710

Phone: 266-4671 Fax: 267-8705




c/o Common Council Office

City-County Building, Rm. 417

210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

Madison, WI 53703

Phone: 266-4071 Fax: 267-8669


Agency Work Plan Requests

Agency budgets establish funding categories and funding levels. Agency work plans translate budgets into action timelines that describe how specific improvement projects will be implemented. Examples of activities described in agency work plans include developing a master plan for a park; establishing engineering specifications for an intersection realignment; and creating a redevelopment plan for a commercial corridor. Since neighborhood improvements require advanced planning by City agencies, it is prudent for neighborhood associations to contact Alderpersons and City agencies between January and June to discuss incorporating neighborhood budget requests into agency work plans.

Non-City Funding Sources

Raising funds for neighborhood improvements often requires combining funding and in-kind services from many sources, including residents and businesses, non-profit groups and institutions (such as community development organizations, business associations, centers of worship, and service organizations), and state- and national-level foundations that target funding to local civic improvement efforts. Information resources on neighborhood funding sources and fundraising strategies include reference sections at public library branches and contact with other neighborhood associations and community-based groups. For a list of registered neighborhood associations, contact:

Ruth Ethington, Planning Unit

Municipal Building, Rm. LL-100

215 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

Madison, WI 53703

Phone: 267-8727 Fax: 267-8739




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