Free childcare at city meetings, more firefighters and money for the Colonial Club are just some of the new items proposed in the 2020 City of Sun Prairie budget.
During the last two weeks, Sun Prairie alders have approved $932,452 in initiatives in the 2020 budget draft, with more than half paid by the tax levy. The proposed budget would increase taxes $53 on an average ($260,000) home. That’s a 2.567 percent tax levy increase.
A public hearing on the city budget is set for the Nov. 5 Committee of the Whole meeting starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at the Sun Prairie Municipal Building, 300 E. Main St.
Alders backed spending money ($285,596) to bring five more firefighters on staff to handle services to the growing Sun Prairie community. City officials said a federal grant to SPFD will pay 75 percent of adding staff.
One police officer will be added to the city ranks in May 2019 for $76,838, under the proposed budget.
Interim SPPD Police Chief Brian Teasdale said the department requested two officers so it can balance out its reactive policing—responding to calls—and community policing that finds proactive solutions to problems.
“Really what we are seeing is a reduction in our ability to engage in that proactive problem-solving policing. That is responsible policing and has been a key piece of our success,” Teasdale told alders at the Oct. 29 Committee of the Whole meeting where the 2020 budget was discussed.
In the proposed budget, the library will get funding for year-round Sunday hours and Hoopla, a service that lets library patrons download and stream audiobooks, books, movie and TV programs.
Alders put their financial backing behind next year’s International Fair. The inaugural event this September was paid for by sponsors. They also voted for a 3.5 percent salary increase for the mayor and city council.
Council president pay would increase to $11,087, council members to $6,963. The mayor’s salary wouldn’t increase until the 2021 budget cycle.
A Neighborhood Navigators program expansion is proposed in the 2020 budget, increasing hours for the Vandenburg Heights navigator to cover The Element on Main apartment neighborhood. Dane County funds the majority of the program.
Alders also backed a one-year pilot program for free childcare at city meetings. Alders Theresa Stevens (District 2) and Emily Lindsey (District 1) introduced the $23,012 initiative. The Parks and Recreation Department will provide babysitting staff for more than 30 regularly scheduled city council, board and sub-committee meetings.
Stevens said free childcare could encourage more parents to get involved with city government.
The city’s donations to the Colonial Club would increase $10,000 in the 2020 proposed city budget.
There’s also money for a transit study that city officials said could be used to plan future Metro Transit bus routes.
The proposed budget also has funding to study and recommend safety improvements at intersections on Main Street and Grand Avenue.
The council also backed funding a study to see whether or not high-intensity activated crosswalk (HAWK) beacons are an option for the Park Circle, Clarmar Drive and Rickel Road area. Grants will cover 90 percent of the $241,200 initiative.
More information on the proposed 2020 City of Sun Prairie is available on the city website, cityofsunprairie.com.