There’s an old saying, that you can’t complain later if you didn’t pay attention in the present.

It’s municipal budget season. Most towns, villages and cities adopt their budgets in November. Proposed budgets are being debated now and will soon progress to final votes.

Municipal budgets touch us closely.

They lay out how our small villages and towns here in rural eastern Dane County can spend in the coming year on things like street repairs, parks, economic development and police, fire and EMS.

In coming weeks, many budget summaries will be published in our newspaper, per state statutes. If you want more detailed information, the clerks in each municipality have that.

County Boards in Dane and Jefferson Counties, too, are now debating their 2020 budgets with those plans are usually adopted in November.

Often, understanding what’s in the coming year’s budget requires a grasp of issues that have been debated for several years.

The debate over fire and EMS funding in the Cambridge area, for instance, has been ongoing. If that backstory is confusing, reach out to elected officials and municipal staff. Don’t let confusion stymie your questioning.

In coming weeks, we’ll do our best to help share local budget information in our print paper and on our website.

In this week’s paper, for instance, we have stories on the Dane County and the Village of Cambridge 2020 budgets.

We’ll try to let you know when public hearings are scheduled for local budgets. Each of the municipalities, and the counties, are required to have a public hearing on their budget before adopting it.

Pay attention to when those hearings are, and plan to attend if your schedule allows.

The only way elected officials and municipal staff know how the community feels about proposed spending is for us to pay attention to the debate and then to question and to share our views on the responses.

When the ink dries on area 2020 budgets, hopefully community members are fully aware of what’s in them and how that affects us all in the long and short-term.

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