Dane County Executive Joe Parisi unveiled his 2020 county budget proposal Oct. 1 and noted several projects that would benefit Cottage Grove, McFarland and Monona.
“My 2020 budget makes significant investments in compassionate services for our more vulnerable residents, infrastructure improvements to maintain public safety as our community continues to grow, and efforts to preserve our unique outdoor spaces,” Parisi said. “With this new decade comes a continued commitment by Dane County to invest in its people and places.”
Parisi wants to allocate $1.25 million to fund the county’s share of reconstructing Cottage Grove Road from Interstate 39 to Sprecher Road. An additional $1.3 million would be used to resurface Highway TT from Highway T to Highway N.
Another $810,000 would go to fund the county’s share of resurfacing Highway BB (Monona Drive) from the Beltline to Highway BW (Broadway), which is a joint project with Monona. Another $1.1 million in county funds would be used to resurface Highway AB from Luds Lane near the county’s East District Campus to the railroad.
The county would allocate $700,000 to resurface Highway AB from Highway MN to Highway 12 as well.
The growth of the community has resulted in more multilane highways. The pending completion of the Verona Road expansion project, ongoing work to widen the interstate, and potential use of shoulders on the Beltline during peak travel times adds to the complexity of keeping roads safe in ice and snow.
The 2020 budget adds $2 million to purchase four “tow plows” and heavy duty quad-axle trucks to pull them. Tow plows are a relatively new line of equipment that allow a single truck to clear two lanes of highway at the same time with a single pass. This will help Dane County’s ability to keep traffic moving on the Beltline and interstate. Given more lane miles are added to the county system with projects like Highway M on the west side of Madison and Verona, $1.4 million is being included to buy four more tri-axle highway trucks (plows).
Parisi is including $350,000 to purchase electric vehicle charging stations at 16 county sites. Five of these sites will be county dog parks, including Prairie Moraine, Badger Prairie, Token Creek, Capital Springs and Viking Parks. Other locations include the Alliant Energy Center, Dane County Job Center, Badger Prairie Nursing Home and county office buildings.
Parisi’s budget also acquires electric cars for the county fleet, expanding its focus on cleaner transportation sources.
The first phase of Suck the Muck extracted 75,000 pounds of phosphorus from Dorn Creek, one of the key waterways feeding the Yahara Lakes. The next phase of work is just now getting underway in Token Creek where phosphorus soaked sludge is 7 feet deep in some spots. It is estimated there are 20,000 tons (enough to fill 1,500 dump trucks) of muck over a 1-mile stretch of Token Creek. Removing it will stop the ongoing seepage of phosphorus into Cherokee Marsh, Lake Mendota and beyond. The county is investing $2.5 million to fund the next chapters of its Suck the Muck initiative and conduct the necessary testing at Six Mile Creek.
Parisi’s 2020 budget creates the “C.J. Tubbs Fund for Hope, Healing and Recovery” — a new $500,000 county grant program designed to enhance community based mental health and addiction services. These grants will be awarded early next year to those in the best position to provide direct assistance to those suffering the effects of severe mental illness and drug or alcohol addiction.
Dane County has put great attention in recent years on front end prevention, focusing a good deal of its mental health efforts with young people and families with school aged children. The Building Bridges School Based Mental Health Program Parisi unveiled in 2013 is now an over $1 million a year effort working directly with young people, their parents, and teachers in nearly five dozen Dane County schools. The 2020 budget adds the $40,000 needed for Building Bridges to be offered year-round in the Monona Grove School District — the latest to join the program.
More than $63.5 million in Dane County funds go to support community based mental health treatment and services each year—a figure that has more than doubled over the past decade. An additional $865,000 would be added to the 2020 budget to further address mental health and addiction recovery in the community.
Parisi’s 2020 operating budget totals nearly $592 million, and the capital budget totals over $61.8 million.
Dane County’s reserve fund is projected to hit $43 million at the end of the year. It has been built up from zero when Parisi took office, improving the county’s financial standing for the future.
The proposed 2020 budget increases the operating portion of the county levy by 3.9 percent, about $21.85 on the average home, which is valued at $300,967 this year.