Dane County Executive Joe Parisi unveiled his 2020 county budget proposal on Oct. 1. From road improvements and the preservation of outdoor spaces to new investments in mental health services, the communities of Waunakee and DeForest will benefit from a variety of county funding in 2020.
“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,” said County Executive Parisi. “With this new decade comes a continued commitment by Dane County to invest in its people and places.”
As Dane County continues to grow, it is important that its roads continue to be upgraded to maintain public safety. The budget includes $4 million to reconstruct and add bike lanes to Hwy. V from Hwy. 113 to Hwy. I. An additional $1.1 million in county funds will go to resurface Hwy. I from Hwy. 19 to Hwy. V.
A total of $3.5 million will go to design Hwy. M from Westport Road to Willow Road, including the re-design of the intersection from Hwys. K and M. So far, the design calls for widening Hwy. M west to Oncken Road. The county is also allocating $265,000 to resurface Hwy. I from County DM to North County Line.
County Executive Parisi is including $300,000 in his 2020 budget to complete construction on phase one of the North Mendota Bike Trail. This section will run from Woodland Drive to Governor Nelson State Park as part of a partnership. The county’s total investment into the first phase of this project is $1.3 million with what’s included in the 2020 budget.
The county is also investing $2.5 million to fund the next chapters of its “Suck the Muck” initiative and conduct the necessary testing at Six Mile Creek. The sediment found in these streams is estimated to be up to 125 years old and contain 870,000 pounds of phosphorus, which can increase the frequency and extent of hazardous algae blooms. According to Josh Wescott, Parisi’s chief of staff, the focus of that project will be at the site where Hwy. M crosses Woodland drive. Wescott said testing shows a high concentration of phosphorus there.
Dane County received positive results from its pilot “Continuous Cover” program this year. Designed to reduce run-off, enhance carbon sequestration, and preserve rural character, interest in the brand-new effort was overwhelming. With $750,000 in start-up dollars for the program plus dollars from the Yahara CLEAN budget, Dane County will able to award grants to convert nearly 550 acres that had been in annual row crops into continuous, perennial cover. County Executive Parisi is doubling funding available for Dane County Continuous Cover in the 2020 budget to take advantage of a broader willingness by a number of Dane County property owners to enter into long-term agreements to seed down their lands with continuous cover grasses and prairies.
The benefits include reducing phosphorus and carbon emissions, protecting lands for conservation in the face of expanding development pressures, and promoting habitats good for pollinators who continue to face adversity from challenges like pesticides and climate change.
Too many times each year, families across Dane County’s community experience the unrivaled pain of losing a loved one at the hands of mental illness or addiction. Earlier this year, a member of Dane County’s family lived this tragedy, when Emergency Management Director Charles Tubbs, his wife Cynthia, and their family lost their son and brother, C.J. Tubbs. To honor his life, Dane County Executive 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 ill-fated 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 County Executive 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 will be added to the 2020 budget to further address mental health and addiction recovery in our community.
By the Numbers
County Executive Parisi’s 2020 operating budget totals nearly $592 million and the capital budget totals over $61.8 million dollars.
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, a safety net the community needs given continued uncertainty from Washington, D.C.
The county’s 2020 budget increases the operating portion of the county levy by 3.9%, about $21.85 on the average home, which is valued at $300,967 this year.