In the beginning of October, I introduced my 2020 budget proposal. As it continues to make its way through the County Board process, I want to highlight some of the key initiatives residents will see take shape in the coming year. From investments in mental health services and addiction recovery to clean lakes and flood mitigation, 2020 will be a big year for Dane County and our continued commitment to our residents.

Too many times each year, families across our community experience the unrivaled pain of losing a loved one at the hands of mental illness or addiction. A member of Dane County’s family lived this tragedy earlier this year when Emergency Management Director Charles Tubbs and his wife Cynthia lost their son, C.J. Tubbs. To honor his life, my 2020 budget creates the “C.J. Tubbs Fund for Hope, Healing and Recovery.” This new $500,000 county grant program will enhance community based mental health and addiction services to assist those suffering from the effects of severe mental illness and drug or alcohol addiction.

I’m also proposing new investments in our neighborhood and community centers. Be it through recreation, tutoring, meals, or youth mentoring—our neighborhood and community centers are an invaluable resource for our younger residents. Childhood mental health, trauma, and poverty are all barriers to the future success of young people in the community, and our neighborhood and community centers often see these effects firsthand. My 2020 budget proposal includes over $600,000 in new county funds for community centers to help advance long standing county policy priorities like reducing poverty, improving mental health services for young people, and bringing partners together to support families.

Dane County is also committed to making the necessary investments to adapt to our changing climate. We’ve seen over that last few years how heavy rains can impact our chain of lakes, overwhelming them with water that can’t get through the system fast enough. My 2020 budget includes $5 million to create a brand new sediment removal crew and purchase the equipment needed for the county to do its own hydraulic dredging. This will ensure for years to come that Dane County has the equipment and staff expertise in house to manage work demands created by new realities that pose unique challenges to our quickly growing area.

We are continuing to do hydraulic dredging in area creeks and streams as part of the County’s “Suck the Muck” initiative. Last year, we extracted over 75,000 pounds of phosphorus, a major contributor to algae growth in area lakes, from Dorn Creek. The next phase of Dane County’s work is now underway in a one-mile stretch of Token Creek, where we estimate there are 20,000 tons—enough to fill 1,500 dump trucks—of muck. My 2020 budget includes $2.5 million for the next chapters of our “Suck the Muck” initiative, including work at Six Mile Creek between Waunakee and Westport.

Our commitment to the residents of Dane County and the places they inhabit, work, and recreate inform the priorities reflected in my 2020 budget proposal. I look forward to continuing to work with the County Board of Supervisors on this budget and advancing the values Dane County residents hold dear.

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