A Message from County Executive Joe Parisi:
Today I'm introducing the 2022 Dane County budget. I do so in the midst of what are no doubt uncertain, challenging, and yes, sometimes scary times. A year ago many of us looked ahead with great anticipation to what life might look like 365 days later.
Fast forward to today and the Covid-19 pandemic remains both prevalent and persistent thanks to a new infectious strain more virulent than what we faced last fall. Illness and hospitalization numbers across Wisconsin and the nation rival what we experienced last winter. While our county’s vaccination rates far outpace our peers, we are not immune from a virus that remains unpredictable and evolving, in large part due to the high numbers of unvaccinated individuals in our region. Nurses, doctors, school children, the elderly and those with medical conditions remain at great risk. For our health care professionals, their emotional and physical well-beings are under duress as they continue to struggle with the trauma of needless loss and human suffering. Even those with the greatest empathy are rightly feeling frustration with the repetitive day after day care of those who find themselves in precarious health, sometimes as a result of their own choices.
The peril facing our planet as a result of the climate crisis is visibly evident on a regular basis in the form of ravaging wildfires, inundating flooding, and cycles of drought and heat that are changing our landscape with greater frequency and severity. This year is on pace to go into the books as the hottest in the planet’s history. Prices of goods we commonly use are costly and sometimes less available. Disruptions in the supply chain are making it harder to get certain goods and services. Help wanted signs are hanging in many door fronts and windows with some of shops and gathering places we used to depend upon now available fewer hours. Increased incidents of violent crime and the many faces of poverty – including substance abuse - only add to the sense that life is a bit unsettling right now.
This confluence of events can raise anxiety and create a sense of fear. To some this period may even feel chaotic, with it sometimes seeming there are no perfect options to resolve the quandaries we face. There are plenty of reasons to feel overwhelmed but as a lifelong member of this community I know moments that test our spirit are often the impetus for some of our greatest successes, innovation, and stories of human compassion. Our feelings of frustration right now are real. Behind the clouds remain in all of us a flickering light of optimism that this all too shall pass, that our prevailing optimism and concern for one another will see us through. That’s the spirit with which I compiled this county budget. Dane County government will continue to lead with progressive, innovative templates for public services that meet the needs of our communities and our people, regardless the moment. My 2022 budget meets the challenges we face with a strategic focus on the health and well-being of our people and protection of the resources and places that define us.
Dane County Executive
My 2022 operating budget totals $659.6 million while the capital spending plan comes in at $88.2 million, with the largest expense being construction of the new Mental Health Triage and Restoration Center. The budget includes a levy increase of 3.9%. The taxes on an average Madison home total $966.09, an increase of $63.99. The budget for Dane County Human Services comprises the most significant piece of the operating budget, totaling $273.9 million for next year, or roughly 42% of the entire budget. The budget includes a 4.5% contract increase for purchase of service agencies that assist the county with the programming it provides for individuals and families.
These times continue to test our resiliency as individuals, families, and community. This budget helps rise to meet the challenges of this moment, challenges that test our well-being, character, and in the case of Covid, one of life’s most core fundamentals: our health. Even in this uncertainty we see innovation, optimism, and reasons to root our hope that our tomorrows will be just a bit easier than our yesterdays or today.
I’m proud of the opportunity to present this budget and believe it reflects values and priorities of our community. I look forward to working with the County Board on final adoption in the coming weeks.