Monday, November 21, 2005 - 2:13am
Madison – Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said today that he intends to approve the 2006 capital and operating budgets approved by the Common Council. Cieslewicz said that although the council made some modifications to both budgets, the vast majority of his budget priorities were left intact.
“Earlier this fall, I introduced a balanced and responsible budget that meets key city needs while keeping property taxes in check,” said Cieslewicz. “That approach set the tone for the budget debate we have had in the past months. Although the council chose to make some changes to my proposal and to spend more money than I would have liked, the overall result is a budget that reflects the goals I set.”
The 2006 operating budget includes a levy increase of 4.35%. Although this is higher than the 3.95% increase proposed by the mayor, it remains well below the 15-year average of 5.75%. The budget retains key initiatives proposed by Cieslewicz, including:
o Public safety: The adopted budget reflects the mayor’s ongoing commitment to investing in public safety. The budget puts 10 new police officers on the street while providing ongoing funding for Madison’s first new fire station in 25 years and first new ambulance in 15 years. It also makes a commitment to build another new fire station in 2008 and a new police station for Madison’s east side in 2006.
o Basic services: The adopted budget includes the mayor’s innovations to provide basic services such as garbage collection and snow removal at lower cost, by capturing savings from the new automated recycling system and a new automated street repair system. Although Madison continues to grow as a city and provide more services to more residents, the Streets Department budget in 2006 is actually lower in real dollars than the 2005 budget.
o Metro bus service: Between funding added in the 2005 budget and the 2006 executive budget, the mayor added $1.1 million to Metro’s budget, a 14% increase. Reflecting higher fuel costs, the adopted budget added another $585,000 for Metro, which will reduce the possibility of service cuts and provide additional service to Madison’s southside.
o Responsible budgeting: To avoid balancing the budget with quick fixes, the mayor did not raid the city’s fund balance (the “rainy day fund”), and the adopted budget maintained that responsible approach.
o Neighborhoods: The adopted budget includes the mayor’s initiatives to continue investing in Madison’s neighborhoods. This includes the program to build five new parks a year in Madison’s new peripheral neighborhoods on the far east and far west sides, and the construction of two new neighborhood libraries: Sequoya on the near west side in 2006 and a new south branch library at the Villager Mall in 2007. It also provides funding for a new Central Library in 2009.
o Environment: The mayor’s initiatives for protecting and enhancing Madison’s environment are included in the adopted budget. Water-quality initiatives include new street sweeping equipment, the 1000 rain gardens program and a preliminary commitment to purchase the innovative “solar bees” in Monona Bay. To encourage alternative commuting, the budget continues investing in new buses, including the next generation of fuel-efficient, hybrid buses. The budget also continues investments in more energy efficient buildings and lighting retrofits, which will reduce City energy costs.
“Budgets are not just about numbers, they reflect our values and priorities as a city,” said Cieslewicz. “The budget adopted by the council reflects the balanced and responsible proposal that I made earlier this fall. It funds basic city services while increasing the property tax levy substantially less than last year, and less than the 15-year average.”
- George Twigg608-266-4611