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"While Madison is not immune from national trends around gun violence, reckless driving, and the economic hardships of COVID-19, there is also reason for hope," said Mayor Rhodes-Conway. "Madison's vaccination rates are among the best in the nation, our economy has begun to recover, and our unemployment rate is low. State and federal administrations have delivered unprecedented aid to cities, allowing us to get on the path to recovery sooner."
The budget process started with the challenge of overcoming an $18 million gap. This was in part due to reduced revenues related to COVID-19, and in part because of a Walker-era state mandate that limits revenue options for cities despite increasing costs. From this starting point, Mayor Rhodes-Conway put together a balanced budget that utilizes federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, focuses City resources better, and it does so with the smallest increase in property taxes (1.1 percent) in 20 years.
The Mayor presented her Executive Operating Budget at Fire Station 6 in South Madison, near areas that are currently part of the Town of Madison, and will be attached to the City of Madison in October of 2022.
In this budget, Mayor Rhodes-Conway's priorities include the following:
- As the City prepares for the Town of Madison attachment, we must ensure equitable City services to new residents. The Town attachment will increase the diversity of City residents. Over 27 percent of the town's population is Hispanic/Latinx, compared to just under 7 percent in the city. The town's Black population is over 13 percent, compared to 7.3 percent in the city. To ensure equitable service the Executive Operating Budget:
- Includes funding to add staffing and supplies to numerous City agencies, including the Streets Division, the Clerk's Office, the Police Department, and the Parks Division for the added services to the newly-attached area.
- Adds funding for citywide services that will also help enable equitable service to the newly-attached area, including ten new firefighters and a Community Connector position in the Department of Civil Rights to expand our outreach to, engagement with, and assistance to Spanish-speaking residents
- This budget advances City innovation in violence prevention and public safety in numerous ways, including:
- Dedicating $600,000 to the CARES (Community Alternative Response Emergency Services) program to provide a team of a paramedic and a crisis worker to respond to nonviolent 911 calls downtown. This team treats behavioral health emergencies as the medical issues they are, centering patient needs and patient care and linking them to treatment options, diverting people from emergency rooms and jails. Soon Public Health Madison and Dane County will be hiring a program coordinator to oversee the strategic growth of this new emergency service.
- Providing funds to assist the Madison Police Department in its goal to be a leader in public service, accountability, and innovation. The budget continues full funding for an Independent Police Monitor and Police Civilian Oversight Board. At the request of our new police chief, the budget includes a new Police Reform and Innovation Director position focused on using data-driven methods to create new strategies for exemplary policing, police reform, reducing disparities, and violence prevention.
- Dedicating over $1 million in funding to violence prevention efforts that implement the Madison Dane County Roadmap to Reducing Violence. The City conducts this work as part of a Violence Prevention Coalition of grassroots organizations, government agencies, and community members that puts the Roadmap into action, addressing a full spectrum of approaches, including stopping violence before it occurs, intervening and preventing further reengagement in violence, and supporting individual and community healing following violence.
- The Executive Operating Budget continues to prioritize and increase City efforts on affordable housing. With local and federal COVID-related funding, the budget dedicates funds that addresses various aspects of the community's housing needs -- from affordable housing to eviction prevention to addressing issues of homelessness. Funding in the Executive Operating Budget is in addition to $21.6 million dedicated to housing issues in the Executive Capital Budget, and includes:
- $6.59 million to help expand housing choices by helping people purchase homes, make needed home repairs, and take on energy-saving retrofits.
- $1 million to reduce barriers to renting for tenants that may otherwise be screened out of the process due to damage reports or low credit scores.
- Funding to expand the City's Eviction Defense Program.
- $2 million for homelessness service operations.
- This budget also doubles down on successful City efforts grow its own diverse workforce. The Green Power solar trainee program has helped people underrepresented in the trades learn how to install solar panels, perform lighting retrofits and more. It not only increases the energy performance of City facilities, but also creates a career pathway for trainees in City public works and diversifies the City workforce. With its success, this budget continues to grow the Green Power program, and also pursue the same model for work on other areas of our Public Works:
- The Engineering Division will create an infrastructure employment and training program to bring our annual sidewalk installation and repair program in-house instead of contracting it out.
- The Parks Division will model the trainee and career pathway approach with a new conservation trainee position.
- A Streets Division trainee program will provide year-round employment and advancement training to some of the City's current seasonal employees.
- The budget continues the high school apprenticeship program for the Fleets Department.
The budget also provide for a one percent pay increase to help close the wage parity gap for general municipal employees.
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"My 2022 Executive Operating Budget, along with the 2022 Executive Capital Budget, make substantial investments in housing, sustainability, equity, community services, and our workforce," said Mayor Rhodes-Conway. "While we continue to face challenging times with a pandemic and the fallout it has created in our community, I believe the priorities of this budget will help us to continue building back a stronger, more equitable and more resilient city."
The Executive Operating Budget will be introduced at the October 5 Common Council meeting. There will be multiple public hearings and opportunities for comment before the budget is adopted in November. The City's full budget process, along with detailed budget information, can be found at https://www.cityofmadison.com/finance/budget/2022/operating.
- Katie Crawley, 608-266-4611, KCrawley@cityofmadison.com
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