Dane County Executive Parisi Introduces the 2018 Budget
October 02, 2017
Stephanie Miller 608-267-8823
MADISON- Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi introduced his 2018 operating budget, totaling just over $537,555,372 and coming in about $500,000 under the state imposed levy cap. Dane County’s reserve fund totals over $34 million, built up from zero when he took office, improving the county’s financial standing for the future. Dane County has a AAA bond rating accomplished through strict budgeting standards, efficiencies, partnerships and innovation.
“While continued state cuts have forced communities across Wisconsin to ask themselves, what kind of community do we want to live in? My budget focuses on our children’s future, a strong human services safety net, safe roads, clean air and lakes, safe livable communities and a high quality of life,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.
Our Children’s Future:
The 2018 Budget allocates $1 million to fund School Based Mental Health Teams in partnership with our local school districts, a program that works with hundreds of students, parents, teachers, and law enforcement to improve the classroom and home experiences of our young people experiencing mental health ailments. As school started this fall, 20 mental health professionals were available to work with at least 260 students and their families to help address mental health needs. This is making a real difference to stabilize both learning and living environments for our young people.
Our Early Childhood Initiative works to reduce the achievement gap, improve disproportionate minority unemployment, and tackle poverty. In his 2018 proposed budget Dane County Executive Parisi adds funds to the newest North Madison Early Childhood Zone which has continued at add families. Currently, there are almost 140 families participating in our Early Childhood Zones in Sun Prairie, Verona, Allied Drive and Russet Road in Madison, along with the Leopold area of Fitchburg and Madison. Nearly $1.1 million in county operating dollars (or $1.9 million total) in this budget will go to continue this initiative in these neighborhoods.
“These common sense programs are helping our children get a good start and putting them on the path to success,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “By intervening early we are saving taxpayer dollars down the road and getting kids the help they need when they need it.”
Human Services Safety Net:
Previous budget investments of $4.75 million have brought us to where we are today, opening the Day Resource Center known as “The Beacon.” Dane County Parisi’s 2018 budget includes $175,000 in county dollars for our share of operating the Homeless Day Resource Center seven days a week in 2018. Partner agencies across the community will team with Catholic Charities, the operator of “The Beacon,” to provide employment and training, mental health, alcohol/drug addiction, and housing services like case management, outreach, and housing navigation for hundreds of men, women, and children who face homelessness.
Dane County Executive Parisi’s budget includes $100,000 for a comprehensive review of existing mental health services in our community. This work will both identify potential gaps while evaluating how a potential Crisis Restoration Center or similar community run facility could help improve care and outcomes.
$100,000 is included in Dane County Executive Parisi’s budget to help fund Porchlight’s Safe Haven, a program that provides transitional housing and case management for those who suffer from mental illness to stabilize their living situation and reduce homelessness. This matches a recent donation of $100,000 by CUNA Mutual.
Additionally, Dane County Parisi’s 2018 budget includes new money to support the critical work that NAMI (National Association of Mental Illness) Dane County does to better train and prepare front line responders and medical personnel on tactics needed to diffuse and de-escalate incidents where mental illness is a factor.
“When people have chest pain they have the awareness to call an ambulance or a doctor to have their heart checked,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Mental illness doesn’t lend toward the same awareness. Government has a role, a bridge to resources for those unable to receive care through their current health coverage. To do better for our community, coordination and communication is critical.”
Where the state of Wisconsin has come up short, local governments are committing more resources each year to improved road maintenance and safety. It costs 20 percent more to run the highway department today than it did just 5 years ago.
Dane County Executive Parisi has placed a focus on improving long overdue road work on our county highways. Wherever possible, Dane County has included bike lanes as roads are re-done, improving safety for all users. This budget continues that focus, funding a number of major road projects in the coming year.
A partnership with the City of Fitchburg funded in the 2018 budget will greatly improve Fish Hatchery Road south of the Beltline to McKee Road in 2018.
The largest project includes the county share of dollars ($4 million in new county money) for the expansion of Highway M linking the west side of Madison with Verona, a project improving the commute for the thousands of county residents who travel to and from Epic for work. This more than $50 million reconstruction will now include a total of $12 million in county borrowing.
Additional road improvements being done jointly with communities next year include:
*Highway P from State Highway 14 to Village of Cross Plains limits – Reconstruction
*Highway N from Highway A to State Highway 51 with City of Stoughton – Resurfacing with bike lanes
*Highway PD from Woods Road to Highway M with City of Verona – Reconstruction to four lanes
*Highway PQ from US Highway 12 to Village of Cambridge limits – Reconstruction
Several projects are also planned for rural sections of county highways including:
*Highway P from Village of Cross Plains north to Highway K – Resurfacing with bike lanes (Town of Cross Plains)
*Highway Q from Onken Road to Meffert Road – Resurfacing with bike lanes (Town of Westport)
*Highway A from Highway PB to State Highway 69 – Resurfacing with bike lanes (Town of Montrose)
“While the state continues to shrink away from their responsibility and tough decisions, local communities have to pick up the slack,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “We must continue to invest in our local infrastructure to drive growth in our economy and keep our residents safe.”
Clean Air and Lakes:
A significant contributor to the harmful algae that grows in our lakes in summertime is coming from sludge that sits on the bottom of our creeks, rivers, and streams that feed into the Yahara Chain of Lakes. This budget takes two important steps to further our lakes cleaning efforts. First, it includes an additional $2.5 million next year for sediment removal. Secondly, it creates a new Dane County Restoration Crew in the Department of Land and Water Resources. The crew will restore streams and fisheries and develop and maintain prairies, allowing Dane County to complete “Suck the Muck” in a timely fashion.
In 2017 Dane County Executive Parisi created the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change and the new Dane County Climate Change Council. In his 2018 budget he is directing that office to develop a Climate Change Roadmap. This highly scientific modeling will chart out the steps individuals, businesses, and communities across our county can take to reduce carbon emissions and address the effects of climate change.
To help communities across our county invest in carbon reduction strategies, the Dane County Executive is proposing the creation of a new $45,000 grant program, administered by the Office of Energy and Climate Change to provide county support and incentive for others to join in the work we’ve embarked upon.
A recent analysis shows Dane County government reduced carbon emissions by 26% between 2007 and 2015. Each year Dane County furthers this effort through steps like converting vehicles in the county fleet from fossil fuels to cleaner burning compressed natural gas (CNG), capturing gas produced by our landfill and using it to generate renewable power, and relying more on the power of the sun. This work to date has reduced CO2 emission by nearly 23,000 metric tons. That’s the equivalent of parking over 4,600 cars for an entire year or not burning over 23 million pounds of coal.
Hundreds of solar panels on the roofs of county facilities are generating clean energy and reducing carbon emissions, including the largest municipally owned solar array in the state. In the 2018 Budget, Dane County Executive Parisi will be seeking proposals for the development of solar on up to 30 acres at the Dane County Regional Airport.
“We are seeing the effects of climate change every day across the globe and here at home,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Investing in green energy isn’t just good for our planet it is good for Dane County taxpayers.”
Safe Livable Communities:
Over the last several years, Dane County Sheriff Mahoney has demonstrated the need to replace the county’s more than 60 year old jail space in the City County Building, with a more modern designed facility that is both more efficient and safer to operate. This proposal eliminates solitary confinement for those experiencing mental health emergencies. The estimated $75 million cost of the latest plan designs, while not ideal, is markedly more financially responsible than initial alternatives that carried price tags nearly twice that high.
The opportunity to consolidate three existing jail facilities – the City County Building Jail, Ferris Center for Huber Inmates, and Public Safety Building Jail into a single facility offers the opportunity for smarter, more efficient service delivery. Reducing the number of jail beds by nearly 100 is the clearest demonstration this project is being built based on need and a continuing confidence in the effectiveness of our rigorous jail diversion programs.
The 2018 Dane County Budget includes funding for an agency to provide re-entry case management service that will be available to jail inmates upon release while they transition from the jail back into the community. These services will include but not be limited to housing, employment, AODA, mental health and peer support counseling. A new staff position in the Sheriff’s Office will coordinate the administration of this program.
“We must be sure we’re doing all we can as a community to ensure those who run into trouble with the law as an effect of causes such as poverty, alcohol or drug addiction, homelessness and mental illness can access the vast community resources available to help address the root causes of the challenges they face,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.
Quality of Life:
This year Dane County opened the long anticipated and most picturesque trail in Dane County: the Lower Yahara River Trail. Future phases of the project envision a seamless link from Lake Farm County Park south to Stoughton. Dane County has the dollars necessary for planning and design work on the next planned segment of the trail, a link from McFarland south to Fish Camp County Park. Dane County Executive Parisi is also proposing to allocate funds in this budget to support projects on the Capital City Trail, Glacial Drumlin Trail, and the North Mendota Trail.
The budget increases taxes on the average Madison home (valued at $269,377) by $54.74 or 6.86%. County taxes represent about 15% of an individual’s total property tax bill.