Statement of Mayor Paul Soglin on 2012 Budget

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 11:08am

Over the last few days a number of people have asked me about the "found? money, or the "new money available? for the 2012 operating budget. Curiously, when the State of Wisconsin cut $450,000 out of Madison's share of the payments for municipal service to state owned buildings and the University of Wisconsin, I was not asked what we were going to do about the "lost" funds.

Updated estimates of the cost of fuel for the city fleet and the cost of health insurance for city employees were revised last week. The cost of fuel in 2012 is estimated to cost $500,000 less and the cost of health insurance payments for the City is estimated at $400,000 less. My position is that this is not new money to spend. This reflects lower expenses and lower costs to the tax payers - taxpayers already faced with an undeserved increase because of the loss of roughly $6 million from the State of Wisconsin that should cover shared revenues, transit expenses, and recycling costs.

One council member also asked what funding I would put ahead of the requested additional $500,000 for Overture. Let's back up and review the situation. Every city agency was requested to present a budget that demonstrated a 5% cut from the 2011 budget. Most city agencies are funded with a reduction of about 2.5% or less because our budget situation has improved in the last two months.

I recommended Overture funding for 2012 at $1,350,000. That is an increase from the 2011 funding at $1,297,473. Some have suggested that the funding should be at $2 million based on the structural agreement. That structural agreement was reached last year before the new world of Governor Walker. Since that time, many contracts were rewritten including labor agreements with most city unions. Those workers took real cuts in their income. My recommendation for Overture is an increase over 2011 funding.

As for where would I spend additional funds, if we had it, here are my own priorities:

• I would add another $200,000 for snow plowing. Our budget is very tight and there is not much room if we should have a few exceptional blizzards.

• There are three new critical positions in next year's budget that are focused on the challenges of strengthening neighborhoods and fighting poverty. They are a job development specialist, a coordinator for the Neighborhood Resource Teams (NRT), and an additional building inspector. At this juncture I would add another building inspector. We are way behind in maintaining our minimum code enforcement and it shows up in the deterioration of rental properties city-wide.

• I would set aside $400,000 to make up the possible loss of Community Block Grant Funds (CDBG). This vital federal program that has funded so many worthwhile projects for four decades is facing as much as 14% cut by Congress. If this cut takes place, many vital agencies and services will be cut in a critical period where we are attempting to strengthen neighborhoods and build community.

As I stated, those are items I would like to be able to fund. However, we can't afford to spend money on them this year. Streets, Neighborhood Resource Teams and other priorities will have to wait. Overture can too.

  • Katie Crawley, 608-266-4611