Dane County supervisors capped months of planning and negotiations Nov. 17 by overwhelmingly voting to adopt new operating and capital budgets for 2015.
The board also approved a tax levy increase of 3.2 percent for next year, which equates to an extra $23.14 on a home assessed at nearly $238,000, bringing the county’s portion of a property owner’s tax bill to just over $740.
The county projects to have a $20 million fund balance at the end of 2015, a strong turnaround considering the fund was in the red when County Executive Joe Parisi took office.
On Nov. 19, Parisi signed both budgets, which he said in a release are “focused on protecting a quality of life that our community values and that also keeps our economic development and job creation far outpacing the rest of the state.”
“I am grateful to the many partners and other elected officials who worked with me to meet these goals,” he added.
Supervisors voted 34-3 to adopt the $532.7 million operating budget and 35-2 for the $42.4 million capital budget. Both spending plans included a variety of amendments such as:
*$3.5 million to expand a facility at the county landfill to recycle local construction waste.
*The addition of 46 miles of roads that will receive snowplow detail 24-hours per day starting this winter.
*$43,000 to begin work on a data-driven pretrial system to aid in determining which defendants should be jailed and who could be safely released on bond.
*$20,000 to fund a pilot project to include input from the public to assess the benefits of using body-worn video cameras by sheriff’s deputies.
Parisi originally proposed the “pre-hire” of five new 911 operators to step in when openings at the 911 Center occur at a cost of $200,000.
An amendment to add $69,000 to pre-hire two additional operators and put the pool at seven was approved by the board.
An additional $3.27 million in capital and operating dollars was also approved to build more radio towers and boost the signal and reliability of the countywide radio system DaneCom.
“This budget is all about progress,” Board Chair Sharon Corrigan said. “It addresses our most pressing needs, moving Dane County forward toward better emergency response, fewer people in homelessness and smarter criminal justice.”
Another initiative is the investment of $2 million annually through 2018 to a new Affordable Housing Fund, which Corrigan said will allow the county to partner with other levels of government and developers to “invest in affordable housing projects.”
“When you have a roof over your head, other things fall into place,” said Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner, a lead sponsor of the allocation.
“When you’re not worrying about where you’ll sleep at night, it is much easier to look for a job and help your kids succeed in school.”
The total $8 million expands the $750,000 that Parisi originally planned for the housing fund, which will be managed by a team of county staffers.
Sup. Bill Clausius of Sun Prairie offered an amendment calling for 30 percent of the fund to go toward projects outside the City of Madison, which was adopted.
“We need to send a message to all of the communities in Dane County and the communities outside the city of Madison,” fellow Sun Prairie Sup. Nick Zweifel said in support of Clausius’ amendment.