Dane County Board Schedules Public Hearing on Budget for Next Week

October 18, 2010
Supervisor Ronn Ferrell (695-1321) Supervisor Dianne Hesselbein (219-8127)
County Board

 Dane County residents are invited to a public hearing on Monday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m. in room 201 of the City County Building to offer their views and recommendations on the nearly $500 million the county will spend next year to fund county government programs ranging from the Dane County Sheriff's Department to the zoo to a broad range of social and health services.

“It will be a very tough budget,’’ said Sup. Dianne Hesselbein, Middleton, who chairs the Personnel and Finance Committee. “Citizen input is very appreciated – and this budget is far from finalized. It will come down to the priorities we set through public input, our committees and by the Dane County Board.

The current $496.7 million budget proposal calls for an increase in spending of 1.5 percent -- and an increase in support from property taxpayers of 2.9 percent. The portion of the budget supported by property taxes would increase from $128.7 million in 2010 to $133 million in 2011.  But because property values in Dane County dropped precipitously this year, the proposed budget would require property owners to pay more – and that will  be controversial, noted Sup. Ronn Ferrell of Madison.

 “It’s a small increase in spending, but it will still require an 18 cent-per-thousand increase in the mill rate. That’s a 7 percent increase in property taxes,’’ Ferrell said.  The county tax rate would go from $2.55 to $2.73 per thousand of property value.

While the county will borrow 18.4 percent less than it did last year, Ferrell said he believes borrowing is still too high – with future interest on the debt crowding out the ability to pay for public safety and other important programs.

 “We’re just passing the responsibility to future generations for spending decisions we make today. We’re truly eating our seed corn,’’ said Ferrell.

 Monday’s public hearing will be part of the two-month long budget process. Earlier this month, County Executive Kathleen Falk proposed the $496.7 million budget. Committees overseeing areas of spending will offer their version of the budget in November for a final budget document in December.

 The public input meeting will be Monday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. in Room 201 of the City County Building.  For more information about the hearing, call the Dane County Board Office at 266-5758.

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