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District 19

Alder Keith Furman

Image of Alder Keith Furman,
Council President

Alder Keith Furman,
Council President

Contact Information

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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District 19 Blog

Supporting the Madison Public any cost?

November 12, 2017 11:14 PM

The Madison Public Market has been in the planning stages for many years, and has been getting closer to reality over the past two years.

I support the idea of a public market, as a valuable amenity for our city and as an engine for small business development and growth. I do believe it's a good use of city money, and have been comfortable with a total cost of about $14 million, of which $4.25 million would be city tax money. These have been the numbers since at least late 2015. The other funding would come from a combination of Federal sources (grants and tax credits) and from private donations. Two years ago, Governor Walker even pledged to help out, but that never materialized.

Last year, the Council inserted language into the 2017 budget to clarify the funding sources and to make the $4.25 million of city money conditional on commitment of the other sources ($6.25 million from the Feds and $2.5 million in private donations). This language was a compromise between those that supported the market and those that wanted to remove the funding completely, and was supported overwhelmingly by the council.

Something has changed, and it's not clear why. In the Mayor's proposed 2018 budget, the expected Federal funding has dropped by $3.25 million and the city's share has gone up by the same amount. No explanation for this shift is given in the budget language, and none has been communicated to the Council thus far.

Ald. David Ahrens has proposed a budget amendment to bring the funding proportions back to the 2017 levels. I have co-sponsored this amendment. While I still support the market, I need a good reason to boost expected city taxpayer contribution by 76%, and you also deserve to know why things changed. Otherwise it feels like a bait and switch compared to what we've expected the costs to be. Transparency is critical when so much money is at stake. Putting forth this amendment ensures that we have a public discussion about whether the market still makes sense to be funded under this new scheme.

Advocates for the market are describing the amendment as a "cut" in funding for the market, and are saying that we need to "keep" the $7.5M in city funding. I find that disingenuous. A city contribution of $7.5M is new and unexpected and needs to be justified; keeping things the same as they have been for several years is not a "cut."

The amendment (and the entire 2018 city budget) will be debated by the Council starting at 5:30 on Monday. If you have thoughts on the public market or any other topic in the budget, please come testify or send an email to me or to the entire council

Thank you,

Ald. Mark Clear


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