Statement by Mayor Dave Cieslewicz at Signing of 2008 City Budget
Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - 8:10am
Madison - Mayor Dave Cieslewicz today signed the 2008 City of Madison budget. He made the following comments at the signing:
"I am very pleased to sign the 2008 City of Madison budget today. The budget accomplishes the main things that I set out to do when I introduced it earlier this fall. Most importantly, the budget comprehensively and aggressively addresses the issue of public safety and neighborhood quality of life.
"This later summer and fall I listened to Madisonians voice their concerns about these issues at eight public meetings attended by about 2,500 Madisonians. These residents need to know that their City government listened to them and responded. I am grateful for their input, and for the input from everyone who came to testify before the Common Council. I also appreciate the support of the alders who voted in favor of passing this budget.
"The highlights of the 2008 city budget include:
Public Safety & Neighborhood Quality of Life
• Thirty new additional police officers, a record number. In addition, we are beefing up our crime analysis capability so that we will be not just stronger but smarter in the use of our resources.
• New and expanded after-school programs to engage at-risk young people in positive activities.
• Another Conservation Corps crew to give at-risk youth positive job experiences and continuation of the START program to link unemployed residents in challenged neighborhoods with jobs in the building trades. The best solution to poverty and crime is a good job.
• Three more building inspectors to enable the City to do more proactive building inspections. Linked with the City's new nuisance abatement ordinance, which I also worked to pass earlier this fall, the building inspectors will be a valuable tool to get after those few irresponsible landlords that are such a big part of the problem.
• Another graffiti removal crew because we know that quickly removing gang graffiti discourages it altogether.
• A doubling of my Emerging Neighborhoods Fund, which I started in my first budget five years ago, to $200,000. This quick-action fund allows us to respond quickly to issues in neighborhoods by strengthening neighborhood associations, starting Neighborhood Watch programs, adding to after-school programs, or doing whatever is needed to address problems in a given neighborhood.
• Funding and staffing for the City's new Neighborhood Indicators Project. This project will be a set of statistical indicators of neighborhood health such as crime rates, housing values, poverty levels and more. Combined with the quick-response Emerging Neighborhoods Fund, this will allow us to quickly address small problems with a small amount of money before they become big problems that are expensive to fix.
• A doubling of the popular Park Ranger program to four Park Rangers so that our parks are even cleaner and safer next summer.
• The construction of a new fire station on the far west side. This is the second new fire station constructed in four years after no additional stations had been put on line for 25 years before that.
• A new library on the South Side at the Villager Mall which triples its current space, as well as an expansion of library hours at two of our most heavily used branches, the South Madison and Hawthorne branches.
• A new cooperative program with Dane County to remove weeds and debris from highly used areas along the lakes.
• A $200,000 investment in energy efficiency projects in City-owned buildings.
• A $100,000 investment in the purchase of renewable fuels.
• An $8.8 million investment in new and replacement water mains, development of new wells and continuation of our nearly complete and nationally recognized lead pipe replacement programs.
• An additional investment of $57,000 in the purchase of wind energy to encourage the development of this alternative source of energy that reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
• A cooperative study with Dane County to pull together stakeholders to develop implementation strategies to clean the lakes.
• No significant service reductions and no fare increases on Madison Metro for the third year in a row.
• Twenty-four million dollars in new investments in major street reconstruction and construction including projects from High Point Road on the west to the Buckeye Road bridge on the east as well as completion of the main part of the State Street reconstruction and continuation of the East Washington reconstruction.
• A long sought after "One Stop Shop" for development permitting will be created by the end of the year.
• The Division of Economic and Community Development will be divided into separate units, peacefully resolving a controversy from earlier this year.
"Finally, a word about the budget process. We don't need wholesale changes to a process that has worked well for decades. Instead, I suggest that the Council do three things.
"First, put more emphasis on the Board of Estimates budget process so that major budget issues can be addressed at the committee level and not be debated yet again on the Council floor.
"Second, respect the thoughtful Community Services Commission process where investments in nonprofit programs are carefully weighed against one another and the efficacy of each organization can be evaluated over time. Each year, there are too many amendments that circumvent and add funding for programs that might not be fully vetted.
"Finally, alders need to practice some restraint. One alder alone sponsored 44 amendments and demanded lengthy roll call votes on virtually every one."
- George Twigg, (608) 266-4611