City Budget Looks To Be Toughest in Decades

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 - 10:53am

But Mayor Won't Cut Police, Firefighters or Crossing Guards

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said today that the budget suggestions submitted by City agency heads paint a picture of just how difficult the 2009 City budget will be.

In response to the Mayor's instructions issued in July, City agencies submitted budget requests for next year that were no higher than their 2008 budgets. As a result of the Mayor's instructions, there were no cuts in police, fire or public works services in the base budget requests submitted last week.

However, in response to high fuel costs and a slowing economy, the Mayor also asked for contingency budget cuts of up to 5%. Of these suggestions from City departments on how to save money next year, the Mayor has ruled out three. Today, he reiterated earlier promises not to layoff police officers, firefighters, or crossing guards - all options laid out in the agency contingency plans.

"We won't lay off police, firefighters or crossing guards, but all the other suggestions are on the table," Cieslewicz said. "Together the contingency cut plans paint a picture of just how tough this budget will be.

"National economic trends have taken their toll across the country, and Madison is no exception. The bottom line is, there are going to be a lot of tough decisions on the table in this budget."

Now that the agency budget requests are in, the Mayor can begin work with the Comptroller's Office to begin crafting his 2009 Executive Budget. The Mayor will work from the agency budget requests and his own ideas to put together his budget, which will be introduced to the City Council on October 7. The Council then will have five weeks to consider it, with final adoption expected in mid-November.

The Mayor reemphasized comments he made when giving agencies budget instructions in July. "This is not the year for new programs," Cieslewicz said. "Instead, it's a year to evaluate what programs are basic City services and should be maintained, what programs can be trimmed this year but refunded in future years and which programs should be eliminated entirely. It's also a year to plan for the future when the economy improves and we move away from our reliance on fossil fuels and their high prices."

  • Rachel Strauch-Nelson, (608) 266-4611