Dane County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan, joined by Supervisors Patrick Miles and Supervisor Yogesh Chawla, announced the county board’s most recent effort to engage and educate the public on Dane County’s budget process.
The board will pilot A Balancing Act, an online budget simulation tool in conjunction with a video designed to inform the public on the various services the county provides and the challenges in making the trade-offs the board has to consider each year when working on the budget.
A Balancing Act is a simulation in use by 60 local governments nationwide. The public will be able to go in and simulate balancing the 2020 budget. The dollar figures in the simulation are from the Dane County budget proposed by County Executive Joe Parisi earlier in October.
Having the opportunity to see the various departments, divisions and initiatives and allocate funds for priorities will provide people with awareness of how complex Dane County is – and hopefully provide education on what various departments do.
“As one of the most important items the county board works on each year, we want to make sure the residents of Dane County understand what we do, and how we make decisions,” said Corrigan (Middleton, District 26).
The county board has also created a short video meant to provide a high-level overview of the budget process and ways for residents to get involved.
“The budget reflects all that the county does for residents, but it can be difficult to get your arms around it,” said Miles, chairman of the personnel and finance committee (McFarland, District 34). “We're excited to provide A Balancing Act as a tool to increase awareness around the budget process while providing another way for the public to have an input.”
These budget educational items are a part of the board’s engagement initiative, Engage Dane, to facilitate engagement among the residents of Dane County and the board.
In addition to A Balancing Act and the budget video, one-page handouts on the budget process were put in all the libraries in Dane County.
“I’m excited to be able to offer the public an opportunity to learn about the budget, because it affects everyone who lives in Dane County,” said Chawla (Madison, District 6), who is a part of the team that helped shape the Engage Dane initiative. “We need to continue to find innovative and inclusive ways to engage the public. This year is a great opportunity to provide new educational tools, which will hopefully lead not only to increased awareness, but also to continued and deeper engagement in the future.”
The educational tools are available at https://board.countyofdane.com/Dane-County-Budget-Information.