Mayor's Budget Focus
Tuesday, October 3, 2006 - 8:31am
Madison – Mayor Dave Cieslewicz today introduced his 2007 executive operating budget. The $209 million budget makes important investments in public safety and basic services, while holding the tax increase on the average home to 3.6% below the rate of inflation.
“This was another challenging budget year, but by setting priorities and saving money through innovation, my budget makes investments in important areas like public safety, economic development and basic services, while taking a fiscally responsible approach to the overall level of taxes,” said Cieslewicz. “This has consistently been my approach to all four of my budgets, and it has helped our economy remain, as Moody’s recently wrote, ‘one of the strongest in the nation.’”
The mayor’s budget focus on the following key areas:
Fiscal Responsibility and Sound Management
The mayor’s budget cuts $2.3 million from city agency spending requests while it adds services in vital areas. Taxes on the average home would rise slightly less than the rate of inflation (3.6% vs. 3.8%) and for the fourth year in a row the increase in the property tax levy is below the 15-year average (4.84% vs. 5.6%). The levy increase is well below the 6.3% that would be allowed under state law.
The mayor’s budget also demonstrates fiscal responsibility in its support for the City’s two “rainy day” funds. This budget decreases the transfer from the Fund Balance by $1 million and increases the contribution to the Contingent Reserve by $200,000.
Many of the initiatives in the mayor’s budget are made possible due to improved efficiency in City government operations. The mayor’s Taxpayer Relief through Innovative Measures (TRIM) program is an ongoing effort to pursue initiatives that provide high-quality City services at a price taxpayers can afford. One such initiative is the automated recycling program which will save taxpayers $400,000 in 2006, provide a higher level of service and improve the rate of recycling.
Public Safety and Community Services
The mayor’s budget contains ten new police officers, one new investigator and seven new detectives. These are the most new officers added since 1995 and the most new officers added without the help of Federal assistance since 1994. It also includes a new initiative to increase public safety in the downtown entertainment district, adding $100,000 of police resources at crucial times under a plan to be developed by the Police Department in consultation with downtown stakeholders.
Addressing public safety also requires the City to address the conditions that bring about crime. To that end, the mayor’s budget includes a 6.3% increase in Community Service programs and a 46% increase in city support for the Community Development Block Grant program. The mayor’s budget also includes funding that will avoid the need for service cuts or fare increases for the Madison Metro bus system, a lifeline for many entry-level workers and low-income families as well as daily business commuters.
The operating budget also contains funding to train three more firefighters as paramedics to reduce stress on paramedics, and my capital budget plans for another new fire station in 2008.
Madison’s economy is strong, but it will take vigilance, foresight and planning to keep it that way. The mayor’s budget includes funding to update Madison’s economic development plan; support the work of the Collaboration Council; rewrite the City’s outdated zoning code; increase support for childcare programs by 10%; step up civic promotion with additional investments in the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau; a reorganization of the Department of Planning and Development with a heightened focus on economic development; creation of a “one-stop shop” to streamline the city development process; and funding for organizations such as the Latino Chamber of Commerce and the Urban League of Greater Madison to ensure that all Madisonians are able to share in the economic success of our region.
As part of the Planning and Development reorganization, the mayor’s budget moves city building management functions to the Engineering Division and creates a Facilities Management and Sustainability Unit. A new position of Facilities and Sustainability Manager will be created to be responsible for increasing the energy efficiency and otherwise greening all City buildings, more than paying for itself over time.
The mayor’s budget puts three additional Parks workers on the front lines to step up maintenance in areas such as grass cutting, tree pruning and facilities repair. In addition, the mayor’s capital and operating budgets both provide for more natural plantings in street medians, requiring less maintenance over time while providing environmental benefits.
Finally, the mayor’s budget accounts for privately raised planning money, as well as a modest City contribution, to make Madison the most bike and pedestrian friendly community in America. It also increases City support for the Safe Communities Coalition.
“Madison is a successful community, but we will only stay that way by anticipating our challenges and meeting them,” Cieslewicz said. “This budget does just that with new initiatives in the areas of public safety, community services, economic development and more. And we accomplish these objectives while keeping taxes on the average home at just below the rate of inflation and continuing the prudent fiscal policies that make us nationally recognized for sound management.”
The 2007 executive operating budget is available online at www.cityofmadison.com/comp/BudgetIndex.htm.
- George Twigg, (608)266-4611