The Dane County Board of Supervisors approved the 2020 county budget at their meeting Monday night, Nov. 11. With an operating budget of $593.7 million, and a capital budget at $69.6 million, the county’s total budget for 2020 is $663 million.

The local economy is strong and the tax rate has dropped from $2.97 per $1,000 of valuation to $2.90, a release said. With rising home values, county taxpayers will see an increase in their tax bills equal to $25.47 on the average Madison home — from $846.45 to $871.92.

The annual budget process takes place each October and November and sets spending priorities for the following calendar year. The county executive released his proposed budget on October 1, and Dane County Board committees have spent the last six weeks hearing from the public and making amendments regarding staffing and funding levels.

“Dane County is the second-largest county in the state and our budget must address complex issues,” noted Supervisor Patrick Miles (District 24), Chair of the Personnel and Finance Committee, the budget-writing committee of the board. “The county executive handed the board a budget that addressed mental health, affordable housing, and the needs of immigrants, as well as investments to control flooding and address climate change. The county board was able to build on that strong foundation to deliver a strong and balanced budget.”

The budget includes $1.25 million in new funds for mental health services in Dane County, adding to a base budget of over $60 million. The board approved an additional $1 million for the CJ Tubbs Fund for Hope, Healing, and Recovery designed to enhance community based mental health and addiction services.

The board also allocated $25,000 to support a position at Outreach, Inc. to provide alcohol and other drug addiction prevention and homelessness in the LGBTQ communities in Dane County.

The budget also prioritizes affordable housing and homeless prevention services. The County Executive proposed $3 million for the Affordable Housing Development Fund, and the board added $1 million to this amount.

The board also included $1.3 million for the Salvation Army’s efforts to develop a mixed use project including a family shelter, a women’s shelter, a pay-to-stay shelter, medical respite shelter, supportive service center, and residential housing units on the property on East Washington Avenue in Madison. In addition, the board approved a $1.3 million contribution to the Bayview Foundation redevelopment project.

“The 2020 budget is all about helping people in the community. We recognize that Dane County plays an absolutely critical role in providing services to our most vulnerable,” noted Sun Prairie District 3 Supervisor Analiese Eicher, who serves as Second Vice-Chair of the County Board.

Making sure that residents of Dane County have access to healthy, sustainable food, the county executive proposed $30,000 for the “Healthy Food for All” initiative. The board increased the hours of the existing Food System Coordinator position to full-time, and provided an additional $23,630 for senior nutrition sites throughout Dane County.

In response to the recent flooding and the impacts of climate change, the proposed budget included $3 million to purchase land in flood-prone areas, and the board included an additional $3 million.

The focus of Dane County’s criminal justice system improvements has been to hold individuals accountable while providing supports to encourage productive and healthy lives. For example, the board amended the budget to include $100,000 to complete a feasibility study for a community justice center, a model grounded in restorative justice that addresses the primary issues facing the individual as well as criminal behavior.

Further recognizing the importance of restorative justice as a way of repairing harm, reducing risk, and rebuilding community, the board has added two Social Worker positions in the District Attorney’s Office, one for victim witness support for juvenile cases and one devoted to restorative justice case management.

To keep pace with the increased referrals to the Community Restorative Court, a program leader position has been added in the Human Services Department.

“Every year, the county executive and county board must weigh the needs of the community and deliver a spending package to best meet those needs,” said County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan (District 26). “We have done our best, and I believe this budget will provide human services programs for children, families, and seniors; environmental protections, particularly in the area of flood control; and criminal justice system improvements that reflect Dane County values.”

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