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Falk Announces Budget Decisions

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Sharyn Wisniewski, 267-8823


Issued By: County Executive
View only releases from County Executive
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today (11/21/01) approved the 2002 Dane County Operating Budget of $381 million. She partially vetoed the Capital Budget to allow the planning of secure treatment facilities for inmates with alcohol and drug abuse problems while stopping the three-floor, $42 million expansion of the Public Safety Building.

Falk said: “The budget both limits taxes and improves services for Dane County residents. I appreciate the Board’s cooperation in working on a difficult budget, and their approval of the budget largely as I proposed it on October 1st.”

Highlights of the operating budget include:

The increase in the property tax levy was held to 4.55%. This meets Falk’s self-imposed goal of limiting property tax levy growth to an increase not greater than the rate of inflation plus the rate of population growth (in 2001, 4.55%).

Reserves increased by approximately $1.33 million to $8.6 million. This means the Reserve Fund will go from 2.65 to 3%. “In light of the uncertain economy, the state’s budget difficulties, and the need to preserve the County’s AAA bond rating, it makes good sense to increase our Reserve,” Falk said. “I appreciate the hard work of Supervisor Larry Olson and the opportunity to work with him and other Board members in reaching that goal.”

Improved human services including additional transportation and meal services for seniors, two new Youth Resource Centers, better services for families battling mental illness or other major problems, and significant funding increases for adults with developmental disabilities. Falk commented: “One of the most important improvements in human services is the 3% increase for the salaries of the lowest wage earners in organizations we contract with to deliver services that enable citizens to live and remain active in our communities.”

Funding for the Lussier Family Heritage Center and the Centennial Park.

Major improvements to the 911 system including an additional operator, implementation of Priority Medical Dispatch, and a new communications tower in the DeForest area.

Implementation of new stormwater regulations to protect Dane County’s lakes and rivers.

Falk partially vetoed language added to the Capital Budget to begin planning a three-floor jail expansion of the jail in the Public Safety Building. The Sheriff has estimated the cost of this project at approximately $42 million. Falk’s veto enables the county to move forward with planning secure treatment facilities and programs for jail inmates with alcohol and drug abuse (AODA) problems.

Falk said: “By planning, building, and implementing programs and facilities for inmates with AODA problems, we’ll make progress toward four important goals. We will help reduce overcrowding in our jail. We will improve public safety. A lot of the people who keep returning to jail will stop that destructive misconduct when they stop abusing alcohol or drugs. We will save money. While AODA treatment and facilities will cost money, it will not be $42 million. We will reclaim lives. Ending up in jail over and over because of a drinking or drug problem is a terrible waste of human life and can destroy a family.”

In her veto message, Falk directed the County’s Department of Administration (DOA) to begin the process of planning for the AODA treatment programs and facilities with the involvement of the Sheriff, District Attorney, Judges, defense attorneys, and experts in treatment. DOA is to complete the first phase of this effort by July 1st, 2002.

Attached is a copy of Falk’s veto message which provides additional information and detail and a fact sheet on the Operating Budget.


DATE: November 21, 2001
TO: Kevin Kesterson, Chair, Dane County Board of Supervisors
Dane County Board Members
FROM: Kathleen M. Falk
Dane County Executive
RE: Approval of 2002 Operating Budget and Partial Veto of 2002 Capital Budget

Today I am approving the 2002 Operating Budget and partially vetoing the provisions of the 2002 Capital Budget which concern planning for jail expansion and AODA treatment facilities.

My thanks and congratulations to the Board for your excellent work on the Operating Budget. We faced a difficult fiscal situation, an uncertain economy complicated by a difficult war effort, stagnating or declining state and federal revenues, and increasing needs for services, especially with regard to human services and law enforcement. The budget I presented to you on October 1st reflected my determination to maintain or improve services while limiting property taxes.

I genuinely appreciate the Board’s hard work and cooperation in passing that budget with all the key features that I proposed intact. In response to that cooperation, I am approving the Operating Budget without any veto.

The budget controls spending by holding the spending supported by property taxes to the limit I have consistently advocated, the rate of inflation plus population growth. We avoided the elimination of programs or the employees who deliver them. In fact, we shall improve services to seniors, the disabled, and children and families battling with problems such as mental illness. Our youth will have two new Youth Resource Centers to provide safe places to play, learn, and help their community. Of special importance is this budget’s provision for a 3% increase for the Purchase of Service (POS) agencies’ lowest wage earners. The budget fully funds our living wage ordinance and allocates $1.9 million for POS providers to pay for salaries and benefits. As a result of these measures, we strengthen our vital partners’ ability to delivery community-based services.

We provided a healthy level of funding for law enforcement and the 911 Center receives additional staff. Parks receives the resources needed to manage and restore the lands acquired through the New Conservation Fund and to make the Lussier Family Heritage Center and the Centennial Park available to the public.

As someone who has consistently proposed increases to the Reserve Fund, I support the Board’s increase of that Fund to 3% or $8,601,300.

Although the economics needed to reach that amount will create tough challenges for our hard working department heads and 2,000 employees, the effort is important in light of the faltering economy, the state’s extraordinary budget difficulties, and the need to preserve our AAA bond rating. I thank Supervisor Larry Olson for his leadership on this issue.

The Capital Budget also reflects some excellent work and cooperation. Funding the New Conservation Fund at the level I recommended enables us to preserve our key natural resources -- wetlands, woods, prairies, rivers, and streams -- identified in our Parks & Open Spaces Plan. The budget keeps us on schedule with the new Courthouse. We increased funding for vital road projects while the 911 system is improved with the addition of a new communications tower in DeForest. We are improving library services with added capital funding and a new Bookmobile. For all of this substantial progress, you again have my thanks.

I am using a partial veto to improve, in my judgement, that section of the Capital Budget which deals with jail expansion in the Public Safety Building. I have indicated my veto by striking through words found in that section which describes the provisions and controls adopted by the Board in the 2002 Dane County Capital Budget Appropriation Resolution. More specifically, as vetoed, the passage reads: “The $1 million appropriated under this resolution for Jail Space Needs Analysis/ Plan shall be used for jail planning and treatment facilities for AODA services.”

My reasons for this partial veto are to improve public safety, reclaim lives, and save money.
The fact that most Board members now agree -- as reflected in the provision adopted by the Board -- on the need to provide treatment to jail inmates with AODA problems is extraordinarily significant and, I hope, will be the basis for our cooperation on this issue. The drunk driver, the spousal abuser, the petty thief, the street corner drug dealer, who all leave our jail without learning to control their alcohol or drug addiction are dangerous to all of us and a detriment to our community. If we increase the number of inmates with AODA problems who learn to stop their drinking and drug abuse, we all will be safer. They and their families will also have productive lives, with a chance for happiness. The waste of human life and family that occurs when a person repeatedly lands in jail because of AODA problems is incalculable.
What can be calculated is the amount of money it would take to add three floors to the Public Safety Building. In his budget request, the Sheriff estimated those costs at $42 million. Those were, of course, the capital costs and do not include the costs of new staff for those three floors. At $42 million, this project would more than double the debt load we are committed to for the new Courthouse. That is simply too much money to spend for jail expansion. For an illuminating comparison, please see the attached analysis by the Department of Administration. When one figures in inflation and debt service, it would actually be more economical for the foreseeable future for the County to house prisoners in other county jails than add the three floors to the Public Safety Building. This is true, even if one assumes that next year we begin spending $1 million a year to ship inmates, an amount ten times greater than what we will spend this year.
Of course, we are not going to ship prisoners over that period of time. We should address the very real problem of jail overcrowding by requiring the state to honor its responsibility to care for prisoners on probation and parole holds, and by adding beds and programs to deal with inmates with AODA problems. As we discover the most cost-efficient ways to detain and treat inmates with AODA problems, I anticipate that the additional AODA beds will be in maximum, medium, and minimum security settings.
As we decide on the mix of facilities and programs we need to effectively, responsibly, and economically treat inmates with AODA problems, the Sheriff has kindly offered to contact the National Institute of Corrections to have that organization study and make suggestions regarding our jail population in Dane County. I have directed the Department of Administration to study and recommend the facilities and programs Dane County should develop to deal with inmates with AODA problems. I have instructed DOA to consult with the key stakeholders as they develop this plan: the Sheriff, the County Board, the District Attorney, Judges, Public Defenders, other members of the criminal bar, treatment professionals, and other county staff. I have directed DOA to complete their report to me by July 1st, 2002, so that I can review it with these key stakeholders in time to recommend implementation steps in next year’s operating and capital budgets. In light of DOA’s lead role in this study, we should be able to have most of the $1 million appropriated in the budget available for implementation, even if DOA has to contract for some consulting services.

I look forward to working with you on this important project to improve public safety, save lives, and do both as economically as possible.

Many of us have noted the timeliness with which this budget was passed and approved. This happy event would not have been possible without the superb work of Interim DOA Director Bonnie Hammersley, Chuck Hicklin, our new Controller, and their excellent co-workers in DOA. We have a lot to be thankful during tomorrow’s Thanksgiving, not the least of which are our excellent county employees.

Thank you again.


Size: $380.9 million

Percent Increase in Levy-Funded Spending: $4.55%

Levy Increase: $3.92 million

Property Tax Rate: $3.16 per thousand (down from $3.35)

Reserve Fund: 3% of budget (up from 2.65%); amount is $8.6 million (an additional $1.33 million from last year)

Impact: About $8 per year (based on a Madison house of approximately $160,000 value)
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