County Executive and Mayor Ink Deal, Complete Health Department Merger

November 26, 2007

Madison - County Executive Kathleen Falk and Mayor Dave Cieslewicz today signed the legal documents that fully merge the city-county public health department. The two local leaders formally signed the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) that completes the merger, which has been a topic of community discussion for years. The signing took place at the South Madison Health and Family Center - Harambee, home to the department's Women, Infant & Children (WIC) program.

The merged department will enhance the delivery of public health services in a number of ways. The WIC program - site of today's event - is now consolidated so that mothers and their children are able to obtain needed services without having to clear unnecessary, bureaucratic hurdles.

"Public health issues cross municipal boundaries and so should our approach to them," said Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. "This merger allows us to take a truly regional approach to addressing public health issues and improving service delivery to families throughout Madison and Dane County."

"It took a lot of work to get to this historic day, but the end result is improved public health services for citizens across Dane County," said County Executive Kathleen Falk. "People expect and deserve high quality public services run as efficiently and effectively as possible and this merger successfully accomplishes those goals."

In the budgets just signed by the Mayor and County Executive, the city and county directed a combined $15-million to fund the newly formed health department and Joint Board of Public Health.

The issue of merging the city and county public health departments had been discussed for many years as a way to improve the delivery of public health services to area families. In the spring of 2001, voters endorsed the idea in a countywide advisory referendum by an overwhelming 74% - 26% margin.

Since first elected, County Executive Falk strongly supported merging the agencies. When Mayor Cieslewicz took office in 2003, he and County Executive Falk made it a priority to move the issue forward.

An initial framework for the merger was adopted in 2005. The County Executive and Mayor then hired Dr. Tom Schlenker who started as the first Director of Public Health for the city and county in January of 2006.

The Mayor and County Executive also appointed the first members of the Joint Board of Public Health.
With that initial framework in place, the city and county negotiated today's agreement for a fully merged public health department.

The joint agency has 165 employees dedicated to ensuring high quality public health for all Dane County residents. The department has an annual budget of around $15-million.

Contact:
  • George Twigg, (608) 266-4611
  • Joshua Westcott, (608) 267-8823