Skip to main content

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
WI Relay Service

District 19 Blog

2021 Capital and Operating Budget

November 1, 2020 7:45 PM

On Tuesday, November 10 (and November 11 & 12, if necessary), the Common Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing and adopt a capital and operating budget for 2021.

For those interested, this is post provides details on what's happened so far and what's next.

The City of Madison has a capital budget and an operating budget.

op vs cap graphic

The capital budget provides funding for the City's major construction projects including building new facilities, improving our transit system, maintaining our roads and parks, and purchasing major equipment. The capital budget includes the Capital Improvement Plan, which lays out anticipated projects for the next five years. The capital budget is primarily funded via borrowing over a 10 year period.

The operating budget provides money for running City departments and services. It pays for the day-to-day spending on employees, materials, supplies and community programs. The operating budget is primarily funded via taxes.


On September 1st, Mayor Rhodes-Conway introduced the 2021 Executive Capital Budget. The Executive Capital Budget includes $161.6M in new capital expenses in 2021 and $63.2 million in reauthorizations from 2020.

You can explore a very cool interactive story, which outlines proposed spending for 2021 to 2026, spending based on the elements of the Madison Comprehensive Plan (Land Use & Transportation, Neighborhoods & Housing, Economy & Opportunity, Culture & Character, Green & Resilient, Effective Government), funding sources, and a map of facilities, parks, transportation, and utilities that are covered in the budget.

Some brief highlights of the 2021 Executive Capital Budget (full highlights in the Mayor's Executive Capital Budget Summary):

Land Use & Transportation 

  • Funding the first phase of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) with the goal of having the East-West corridor operational by 2024. This $160 million capital investment leveraging federal and local sources has the potential to reduce ride times by 35% and help mitigate traffic congestion. Implementing BRT will allow us to redesign our existing bus routes. Once this work is complete residents will be better connected to employment hubs, retail centers, and medical services in a way that will no longer require hour-long ride times and carefully planned transfers.  
  • Allocating $3.0 million for the Vision Zero program to redesign the City's most dangerous intersections in a way that will reduce traffic and pedestrian crashes. 

Neighborhoods & Housing 

  • Increasing the City's investment in supporting the development of affordable housing. The proposed budget will step up the City's annual allocation for affordable housing projects from $5.5 million annually to $6.5 million annually by 2023. Starting in 2021, $2.0 million annually from this funding source will be set aside for developments not associated with tax credit programs to help more types of developments and organizations access these funds.
  • Adding $480,000 over the next six years for lending programs to help rehab our housing stock and to help seniors stay in their homes. The increased funding responds to the uptick in demand the City has seen for these programs in 2019 and 2020.
  • Continuing and expanding the Land Banking program we began in the 2020 Capital Budget. This budget increases funding for this initiative by $3 million over the next two years to ensure the City can acquire strategic parcels of land to combat gentrification specifically on the South side of Madison to assist displaced residents and stabilize our housing market. 

Green & Resilient 

  • Increasing funding for Energy & Sustainability Improvements by nearly $10.0 million and sustaining the increased investment through 2026. Energy efficiency and renewable energy are smart investments that result in savings over time. This will allow us to grow our Green Power solar apprenticeship program to create career pathways in solar power while making progress toward the critical goal of reducing our carbon emissions.
  • Continuing to invest in flood mitigation projects based on recommendations from watershed studies that have been underway since 2019. This plan seeks to invest $21.6 million over the next 5 years to ensure our Stormwater network can keep residents safe when large rain events occur.
  • Accelerating the investment in LED (light-emitting diode) streetlights with the goal of converting all remaining streetlights to LED by 2023. This $3.5 million project will be carried out over three years and has the potential to save the City nearly $400,000 annually in electricity costs once complete. 

Economy & Opportunity 

Continuing the Small Business Equity and Recovery program. The 2021 budget includes $6.5 million for this new program over the next 5 years. These funds will be used to promote equity and resiliency during this time of economic recovery. This program will help business owners of color, women, and other underrepresented business owners to start or expand their businesses and invest in equipment to protect workers and visitors from COVID. 

Culture & Character

  • Continuing funding in the Municipal Art Fund with the goal of supporting two to four Art in Public Places projects annually.
  • Investing $4.8 million to expand the Warner Park Community Center to provide our youth with a place to come together in a safe and inclusive environment.

Effective Government

  • Renovating Fire Station 6 on Madison's South side. The renovated station will make long overdue improvements to ensure the workplace conditions are inclusive for all Fire Department staff. The additional capacity at the station will also ensure we are able to provide fire services to Town of Madison residents following the attachment in fall 2022.
  • Renovating the first floor of the City County Building (CCB), home to the Parks Division, City Clerk, Treasury, and Assessor departments.
  • Transitioning to a cloud-based solution for the City's office suite of programs. This move will ensure our staff are equipped with current tools to do everything from analyze and present data, to communicating with the public and their teams in an efficient way. This approach will allow us to stay current as updated information technology tools are available. 

District 19 Highlights

District 19 related highlights in the 2021 Executive Capital Budget include:

  • Water Utility - Well 14 Mitigation
  • Engineering – Bicycle & Pedestrian: Old Middletown Underpass (2022)
  • Pavement Management: Gammon Rd, Odana Rd, Old Middleton, Craig Avenue
  • Spring Harbor Relief Storm Sewer
  • Spring Harbor Dredging
  • Design and Permit Work on three sections of Greenway in Spring Harbor Watershed (Medota, Spring Harbor and Hickory Hollow greenway)


The 2021 Capital Budget continues a concept introduced in the 2020 Capital Budget called the Horizon List. This list identifies critical and high priority projects that are at the conceptual stage but need additional planning before being included in the Capital Budget.

The 2021 Horizon List includes: 

  • Community Development Division: Men's Homeless Shelter Project
  • Engineering – Bicycle & Pedestrian: Autumn Ridge Path Project, West Towne Path – Phase 2
  • Engineering – Facilities: CCB 4th Floor Remodel Project, CCB 5th Floor Remodel Project
  • Engineering – Major Streets Atwood Avenue Project
  • Parking Division: Lake Street Garage Replacement
  • Parks Division: Brittingham Beach House Renovation Project, New Off-Leash Dog Park Construction Program, Vilas Park Master Plan Implementation


On September 8th and 9th, the Directors from each of the City's departments presented their capital budget requests to the Common Council's Finance Committee. I am a member of the Finance Committee. The meetings were very long, but highly informative. The Finance Committee used the interactive story to provide the Finance Committee an overview of the capital budget. 

September 8th focused on Information Technology, Monona Terrace, Finance, Henry Vilas Zoo, Public Safety (Fire Department, Police Department), Engineering (Facilities, Bicycle & Ped Projects, Major Streets, Other Projects, Sewer Utility, Stormwater Utility).

September 9th focused on Library, Public Works (Fleet Services, Parks Division, Streets Division, Water Utility), Planning, Community & Economic Development (CDA Redevelopment, Planning, Community Development, Economic Development), Transportation (Traffic Engineering, Parking Utility, Transportation, Metro)

You can download the full PDF of the presentations and a schedule of presentations if you want to use the PDFs to follow along with the videos.

The Finance Committee is the Council's first opportunity to amend the Mayor's proposed budget. Any Council member not on the Finance Committee was able to submit amendments with courtesy sponsorship by the Council President. On September 21st, the Finance Committee discussed and voted on those amendments.

Starting November 10th, the Council will discuss and vote on additional amendments (which have not yet been proposed).

You can see the full legislative file for the Capital Budget here.


On October 6th, Mayor Rhodes-Conway introduced the 2021 Executive Operating Budget. The Executive Operating Budget is $670M.

You can explore the budget more in an interactive format here.

A summary of highlights of the 2021 Executive Operating Budget (full highlights in the Mayor's Executive Operating Budget Summary):

In June, when City agencies were beginning work on their budget proposals, the City was faced with a $25.0 million shortfall. While $10.0 million of this gap was the result of revenue loss from COVID, $15.0 million of our shortfall was the result of a structural gap that exists because our annual expenditure growth outpaces revenue growth. While healthcare and personnel costs were projected to increase by 5%, the allowable revenue growth under state limits is only 2.5%.

Balancing the Budget

  • Utilizing $8.0 million of the City's unrestricted fund balance for temporary revenue loss and one-time expenditures.
  • Increasing the ambulance conveyance fee and building inspection fees to levels comparable to other communities and reflective of inflation. These changes are expected to add over $1.1 million to general fund revenues in 2021. Assumption of fire, emergency medical and inspection fee services from the Town of Madison will add $1.3 million in new revenue next year.
  • Implementing $3.3 million in cuts to agency budgets; $1.5 million of the total cut to agency budgets will be realized through efficiencies in our service delivery and will not result in major changes to service delivery.
  • Calling on the Police and Fire unions to come back to the negotiating table to reopen their contracts to renegotiate provisions agreed to in 2019 (by the previous administration) that are no longer realistic in the City's budget. The majority of the savings identified in the budget ($1.5 million) can be realized if these employees agree to take the same health insurance package as all other City employees.
  • Requiring furlough days for the City's General Municipal employees. This program will realize $1.2 million in savings next year, with each employee taking 2 to 4 days of unpaid leave over the course of 2021. This program will be implemented in a progressive manner ensuring that those who make more money will have more furlough days than those who make less.

Preserving Funding for Social Services

$10.9 million in General Fund support (double the amount of federal funds we receive in this area) for local community organizations providing a wide range of programs vital to our youth, parents, job seekers, and some of our most vulnerable populations. These funds will be used for:

  • Creating a flexible $400,000 COVID Relief Fund for community organizations to support families navigating the social and economic fallout of the pandemic.
  • Providing $1.8 million for Housing Assistance programs and homebuyer readiness programs supporting low-income families to purchase homes. This investment is on top of the $7.7 million budgeted in the 2021 capital budget for Affordable Housing.
  • Providing $6 million for Community Support Services including much needed childcare and youth services, violence prevention, children and family programming, and services for older adults.
  • Providing nearly $950,000 (and an additional $660,000 from federal grants) to keep our neighborhood centers operating.
  • Providing $1.8 million for employment services for youth and adults along with technical assistance to small businesses.

Reimagining Public Safety

For decades, public safety has represented the largest share of the City's operating budget and keeping people safe is a core function of local government. That function is even more important now, as the turmoil of COVID-19 has led to an increase in dangerous and violent crime. While police focus on that crime, we also must envision new ways of pursuing public safety that produce better outcomes. As we begin reimagining how our resources could be deployed to better align our response with community needs, the Mayor's proposed budget begins taking some responsibilities off our Police Officers to free up their time to focus on responding to dangerous and violent crime by:

  • Experimenting with a new type of Crisis Intervention Team to support residents with behavioral health emergencies. Recognizing that an armed officer is not always the best response to an emergency call, many cities across the nation are experimenting with new models of crisis intervention and service delivery. Madison's Fire Department will lead the way in soliciting community input and designing this program using community paramedics and contracted crisis workers.
  • Transferring the $600,000 Crossing Guard program to Traffic Engineering, so crossing guards can work directly with our Vision Zero and Safe Routes to School programs.

At the same time that the budget is removing tasks and responsibilities from MPD, it will double down on violence prevention efforts outside of the police budget by creating a new Violence Prevention Unit in Public Health with robust investments in new staff and new strategies. It will also increase funding for programs that provide employment and activities for young people.

Maintaining Commitments to Sustainability and Climate Action

We continue to acknowledge the urgency of climate action, by reducing our emissions through renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable transportation options, and by enhancing our resilience to climate impacts, such as with our watershed studies to ensure we're prepared for the future flooding events. The budget does this by:

  • Continuing our ongoing investments in Metro Transit to ensure residents can rely on crucial transit services even in these uncertain times. The 2021 budget provides funding to continue enhanced cleaning practices for Metro buses by creating five new Bus Cleaner positions. Staff will also continue moving forward with Capital Budget projects to build the first phase of a bus rapid transit system and begin electrifying our bus fleet.
  • Maintaining annual funding to conduct Watershed studies that will guide future Stormwater Capital Investment, protecting our homes and neighborhoods from future floods.
  • Creating two new positions in Engineering to help with the Green Power program – also known as our solar apprenticeship program - expansion that was included in the 2021 Capital Budget. These positions will work on solar panel installations and help accelerate progress toward the City's 2030 Renewable Energy goal.

Making Progress on Racial Equity

The Black Lives Matter movement inspires us to expand our efforts on racial equity and reduce the well-documented disparities that have existed for far too long in our community. We are hiring a new Equity and Social Justice Manager who will guide and direct the City's work to further embed equity into the City's work. The budget does this by:

  • Funding a new $80,000 program in the Community Development Division providing resources to renters in our community vulnerable to evictions. These funds will work to improve access to housing support to our most underserved populations.
  • Providing support for small businesses to navigate these uncertain times, especially those businesses run by people of color and women. The Community Development Division budget includes $420,000 to provide technical assistance to these businesses. This funding is in addition to $6.5 million in funding over the next three years through the Small Business Equity and Recovery program in the Capital Budget for equity-oriented business support, recovery, and ownership programs.
  • Increasing the City's Double Dollars program by 50%, so residents can utilize their SNAP benefits to purchase fresh food at our local farmers' markets.
  • Eliminating late-return fines from our library system to provide more equitable access to our library collections.
  • Continuing to prioritize how the City, as an organization, addresses the disparities that exist throughout our workforce and in operations. The budget creates a division of equity and social justice in the Department of Civil Rights to ensure the City's equity work is focused on putting the community's voice at the center of key issues surrounding race.


On October 12th and 13th, the Directors from each of the City's departments presented their operating budget requests to the Common Council's Finance Committee. Much like the capital budget hearings, the meetings were very long, but highly informative. Here's an Executive Operating Budget Overview that was presented to the Finance Committee at the beginning of the hearing.

October 12th focused on Public Health, Public Safety (Fire & Police), Planning, Community & Economic Development (Building Inspection, CDA Housing Operations, CDA Redevelopment, Community Development Division, Economic Development Division, Planning, Community & Economic Development Office of Director, Planning), Transportation (Metro Transit, Parking, Traffic Engineering, Transportation)

October 13th focused on Municipal Court, Monona Terrace, Room Tax Commission, Library, Public Works (Engineering (Including Utilities), Landfill, Sewer, Stormwater, Fleet, Parks & Golf, Golf, Streets, Water), Assessor, Attorney, Civil Rights, Clerk, Employee Assistance Program, Human Resources, Information Technology, Finance

You can download the full PDF of the presentations and a schedule of presentations if you want to use the PDFs to follow along with the videos.

The Finance Committee is the Council's first opportunity to amend the Mayor's proposed budget. Any Council member not on the Finance Committee was able to submit amendments with courtesy sponsorship by the Council President. On October 26th, the Finance Committee discussed and voted on those amendments.

Starting November 10th, the Council will discuss and vote on additional amendments (which have not yet been proposed).

You can see the full legislative file for the Operating Budget here

Wisconsin Policy Forum Review

A non-partisan organization called the Wisconsin Policy Forum posted a review of the 2021 proposed budget to their site:



Information on the upcoming budget meetings:

If you have questions, comments, suggestions, etc., about the budget, feel free to reach out:

-Keith F

Email to a friend Email to a friend

Subscribe to Email List

Subscribe to the District 19 – Alder Furman email list:

By participating on this list the Wisconsin Public Records Laws may subject your email address to disclosure to third parties. By selecting "Yes" you are requesting that we treat your email address that you have provided to this list as confidential and you are also stating that you would not participate in this service if the City is obligated to release your email address to such third party requesters.




Basic Services
Road Construction