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County Executive Parisi Introduces 2020 Budget: “New Decade, Continued Commitment to Our People and Places”

October 01, 2019
Ariana Vruwink, (608) 267-8823
County Executive

Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi introduced his 2020 budget proposal at Centro Hispano, where he said his new budget builds upon the county’s current successes while exploring new opportunities to make a substantive difference for individuals and families in the Dane County community.

“My 2020 budget aims to reflect the values of Dane County residents,” said Parisi. “This budget continues our focus on removing the barriers to opportunity and challenges facing Dane County’s more vulnerable residents. We also work to advance our leadership in protecting the place we call home—the lands and waters that mark the uniqueness of being both the fastest growing county in Wisconsin while maintaining an unrivaled focus on conservation and water quality. Paired together, our continued commitment to people and the places they inhabit, work, and recreate inform the priorities reflected in this budget.”

While at Centro Hispano, Parisi said his budget will create the new Office of Immigration Assistance within the Dane County Department of Human Services, add another full-time bilingual social worker, and bolster the county’s commitment to Centro Hispano to improve its ability to meet the needs of immigrant kids, parents, and families.

Other highlights and new programs are featured in the County Executive’s budget memo, including:

Human Services

The sum for all of Dane County’s human services budget initiatives total $231.1 million for 2020—the most significant portion of the county budget.

·         Housing:

o   The 2020 budget creates the new Division of Housing Access and Affordability within Dane County Human Services. This group will be run by a new Dane County Housing Coordinator funded in this budget, supported by a new full time affordable housing analyst, and teamed with existing county staff who already work on federal housing and development funds like the Community Development Block Grant Program and HOME.

o   $3 million will be included for the Dane County Affordable Housing Fund in 2020. County Executive Parisi is also adding dollars for “The Beacon” to bolster its bus transportation program, add work hours for community navigators to help individuals locate housing, and assist the City of Madison with challenges that tend to present in the downtown area during the warmer summer months.

o   $66,000 will be used for more staffing at the Porchlight-run men’s night shelter to improve safety and services.

·         Victim Advocacy:

o   This budget adds $80,000 for Project Respect, a key community partner in advocating for victims of sex trafficking. These dollars will help with safety planning, crisis intervention, and intensive case management services to juvenile and adult victims of trafficking and help reunite them with families while stabilizing their living situations.

o   $45,000 will go to support DAIS advocacy work. Domestic violence is entirely unacceptable and is pervasive. The DAIS Help Line took 2,443 calls for help from victims seeking legal advocacy in 2018. These individuals support victims of domestic violence with safety planning and help navigate the legal system on everything from restraining orders to family and criminal court proceedings.

·         Joining Forces for Families:

o   County Executive Parisi is expanding the incredibly effective Dane County Joining Forces for Families in the 2020 budget to two new areas. The JFF office expansions into Mazomanie and Marshall at a cost of more than $185,000 will allow existing staff to spend more time in other outlying communities. This change will double the JFF staff time in Stoughton starting next year. This budget also adds two new full time staff positions to JFF.

o   The eviction prevention dollars utilized by JFF staff kept nearly 300 Dane County families in their homes last year. Similar to the last couple of years, the County Executive is adding more dollars to this fund (additional $50,000 for 2020) that helps stabilize housing situations. This will bring the total budget of the eviction prevention fund in 2020 to $200,000.

o   County Executive Parisi is also bolstering dollars available to JFF staff to help families with transportation needs. By adding $50,000 in discretionary funding to JFF in this budget, the county can directly help more individuals with acute, emergent needs that when left unmet can lead to spiraling living situations.

In total, $285,000 is being added to JFF’s budget in 2020.

·         Community Centers:

o   The 2020 Dane County budget includes a $500,000 grant program for community centers to launch new mental and behavioral health work for kids and families.

o   Childhood mental health, trauma, and poverty are all barriers to the future success of young people in the community. Neighborhood and community centers see firsthand the effects of mental health challenges and trauma on young people. To address this, County Executive Parisi’s 2020 budget includes $30,000 for community centers to offer training on trauma informed care to their volunteers and staff.

o   County Executive Parisi is also unveiling a brand new $95,100 program for neighborhood and community centers called Dane County “Get Outside!” The new collaborative will focus on connecting kids between the ages 7 to 14 with the vast array of natural resources and parks that contribute so much to Dane County residents’ quality of life.

The County Executive’s 2020 budget proposal includes over $600,000 in new county funds for community centers to help address the mental health needs of its young people.

Mental Health

Each year, more than $63.5 million in Dane County funds go to support community based mental health treatment and services—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.

·         C.J. Tubbs Fund for Hope, Healing, and Recovery:

o   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. Earlier this year, a member of Dane County’s family lived this tragedy, when Emergency Management Director Charles Tubbs and his wife Cynthia lost their son, 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.

·         End Deaths By Despair Coalition:

o   Dane County will partner with Safe Communities to convene the “End Deaths By Despair Coalition” for a coordinated, communitywide dialogue and real-time review of efforts that are working and potential new ideas to reduce the risk of deaths by despair communitywide. The coalition will bring together partners from Dane County health care and payer systems, criminal justice, K12 and higher education, non-profit and faith leaders, and human services providers to develop a shared work plan and help prevent the irreparable pain brought on by suicide and premature, preventable deaths.

·         Recovery Coaches:

o   Dane County Executive Parisi’s 2020 budget proposal includes $80,000 to expand the “recovery coach” model into Drug Court deferred prosecution programs, and community organizations like the Outreach LGBT Community Center and those who work directly with African American, Latino, and Hmong populations. Dane County has funded the ED2Recovery program since its inception, and this latest investment brings the county’s total financial support of “recovery coach” efforts to $345,191.

·         Building Bridges School Based Mental Health Programming:

o   This program focuses on mental health efforts with young people and families with school-aged children. It has grown to be 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.

·         Senior Mental Health Specialists:

o   County Executive Parisi’s 2020 budget proposal also includes $200,000 to bolster mental health services for older populations. These dollars will fund two full-time mental health professionals as part of a pilot project to assist non-Medicaid eligible adult seniors. The staff will work with Senior Focal Point case managers to help keep seniors who experience chronic mental illness living independently.

·         Mental Health Court Feasibility Study:

o   There is community interest in exploring whether a “Mental Health Court” could better link those who find their way into the criminal justice system with an underlying mental health or behavioral condition with an alternative process—one that is focused on treatment and rehabilitation. This budget includes $25,000 to study the feasibility of creating such a court that could be modeled after other successful diversion programs in Dane County.

Access to Opportunity

“Access to Opportunity” began in 2014 as a series of initiatives aimed at breaking down barriers to success, reducing disparities, addressing disproportionate gaps in educational achievement and the criminal justice system.

·         Drivers Licenses:

o   Dane County’s drivers education partnership with the Madison Metropolitan School District and the local Cooperate Extension (CESA) has helped hundreds of young people earn a drivers’ license. This budget grows the program Dane County created to 120 Madison high school students.

o   County Executive Parisi’s 2020 budget also creates a new partnership with Operation Fresh Start ($52,000 county funds) to help high school grads previously unable to secure a license.

o   A new Parks Apprenticeship program will be created in the 2020 budget—modeled after a partnership the county developed between the Urban League, Latino Workforce Academy, the Dane County Departments of Public Works and Highway and Waste and Renewables. Through professional mentoring and apprenticeships, a number of individuals have secured commercial drivers’ licenses and acquired the skills to operate heavy equipment. $50,000 will be used to establish a similar effort for the Dane County Parks Department.

·         Ending Birth Cost Recovery Collections:

o   Currently, the federal government permits child support agencies to re-coup costs for Medicaid funded births. These dollars are collected after child support payments are made and counties retain a portion of the proceeds for the administration of this collection. With this budget, County Executive Parisi is ending the controversial practice known as “birth cost recovery collections” to give parents one less expense as they work to make ends meet.

Criminal Justice Reform

•             Jail Population Manager:

o   The County Executive’s 2020 budget creates the new position of a Jail Population Manager. This individual will serve as a liaison between the entities that comprise the criminal justice system and help reduce a person’s average lengths of stay in the jail. This person will have the data available to monitor real time bookings and the status of stays that sometimes are artificially inflated due to trip points in the process. This will help people move through the jail quicker and, when paired with the Jail/Human Services Re-Entry Team created in the 2017 budget, can do so in a way that better aligns an individual’s needs with available services in a more timely fashion.

•             Parents Inside Out Program:

o   The Sheriff’s Office is coming off of a highly successful pilot initiative better connecting parents who are incarcerated with their children. The “Parenting Inside Out” program resulted from a partnership between the Sheriff’s Office, National Institute of Corrections, the UW School of Social Work, the UW Extension, and Literacy Link. The first class of ten individuals graduated this year. County Executive Parisi is creating a new Family Connections Coordinator in this budget to take Parenting Inside Out to scale in 2020 with the goal of strengthening the bond between parents and children subjected to the difficulties of incarceration.

Climate Change

·         Adapting and Mitigating:

o   County Executive Parisi’s budget creates a brand new sediment removal crew and purchases the equipment needed for the county to do its own hydraulic dredging. This ensures for years to come Dane County has the equipment and staff expertise in house to manage new work demands created by the new realities that pose unique challenges to a quickly growing area with diverse water resources.

o   $5 million in new county dollars is being included in this budget to purchase equipment needed for sediment removal work and the staff to carry out the job. This adds 4 new positions dedicated to this Yahara Chain of Lakes sediment removal work in the Land and Water Resources Department.

o   Like all areas, Dane County is susceptible to future flooding resulting from climate change induced extreme weather. Given that, County Executive Parisi is creating the new Dane County Flood Risk Reduction Fund to ensure the county can vie for public ownership of lands facing a similar situation to what we saw with the Acker Farm next to Pheasant Branch this summer. This fund will start off with $3 million in 2020.

o   $400,000 is being included in the 2020 budget to expedite the clean-up and repair of Pheasant Branch Conservancy from last year’s flooding. These dollars, when teamed with a county grant award to the City of Middleton this fall, will put Dane County close to $900,000 to help restore the Conservancy.

o   County Executive Parisi is doubling funding available for Dane County’s Continuous Cover Program by including $1.5 million in his 2020 budget. The benefits to this program are many – 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.

·         Renewable Energy:

o   Dane County is on the verge of having over 95 vehicles, including dozens of previously diesel guzzling heavy trucks and plows, running on compressed natural gas. This budget includes $1.2 million to further the fueling infrastructure needed to support Dane County’s CNG fleet countywide.

o   County Executive Parisi’s 2020 budget builds upon the county’s “green” fleet and adds infrastructure at county facilities to promote electric vehicle usage. He is including $350,000 to purchase electric vehicle charging stations at 16 county sites: five county dog parks – (Prairie Moraine, Badger Prairie, Token Creek, Capital Springs, and Viking Parks) along with the Alliant Energy Center, Job Center, Badger Prairie Nursing Home, and other county office buildings. Electric cars for the county fleet will also be acquired, expanding Dane County’s focus on cleaner transportation sources.

o   This budget includes $900,000 to take heat from the Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) plant at the landfill and run it to county facilities at the East District Campus. Heat from the processes used to convert landfill gas into vehicle fuel can be gathered and pumped under the highway to the medical examiner/911 facilities. This will further advance Dane County’s commitment to self-sustainability.

o   Future solar arrays are slated for the Sheriff’s Training Center outside of Waunakee, parks equipment facilities, and Consolidated Food Services.

The solar projects in this and previous budgets have put Dane County on a path to being 100% within a matter of a few years – not decades.


The dollars Dane County is spending on clean lakes, parks for people to play, and trails to recreate total $33.6 million in 2020—a true commitment to a quality of life that keeps communities vibrant and growing.

·         Suck the Muck:

o   The first phase of Suck the Muck is complete, extracting 75,000 pounds of phosphorus from one of the key waterways feeding the Yahara Lakes (Dorn Creek). The next chapter of Dane County’s work is just now getting underway in Token Creek where phosphorus soaked sludge is seven feet deep in some spots. It is estimated there are 20,000 tons (enough to fill 1,500 dump trucks) of muck over a one-mile stretch of Token Creek. Removing it will stop the ongoing seepage of phosphorus into Cherokee Marsh, Lake Mendota, and beyond.

o   Next year’s work will focus on Six Mile Creek between Waunakee and Westport. The 2020 budget has $2.5 million for the next chapters of “Suck the Muck.”

·         Funds, Parks, and Trails:

o   $4 million is being included for the Dane County Conservation Fund to continue the pursuit of preserving land with clear quality of life, conservation, and recreational benefits. This need is even more apparent by the county’s continually increasing and competing land use pressures.

o   County Executive Parisi is including $300,000 to complete construction of 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 this budget.

o   The 2020 budget has a new $50,000 bicycle crossing safety program to put up additional signage countywide and install more safe crossing systems with warning lights.

o   $250,000 is being included for the next section of work planned to resurface and improve the Capital City Trail and $600,000 is being allocated to construct a new dog park at Anderson Farm County Park in the Town of Oregon.

o   Last year, County Executive Parisi announced a multi-year program to create accessible shoreline fishing at county parks. This project set out to make sure everyone had the opportunity to enjoy an evening by the water, creating a number of fishing piers that are fully ADA compliant. The first work as part of this is happening at Salmo Pond, Babcock, and Lussier County Parks. This budget doubles the funding to this effort next year ($200,000 in capital budget) so Dane County can continue its push to increase access to all the incredible outdoor resources the county offers.

o   The 2020 budget includes $300,000 for the restoration of Badger Mill Creek in the City of Verona. This work will include habitat restoration in the area of the Ice Age Trail.

o   A new Assistant Parks Director position will be added in 2020 to help oversee Dane County’s growing network of 16 recreational county parks, 16 wildlife areas, and 14 natural resource areas.

o    $130,000 is being added to replace the roof of the Heritage Center, allowing for the installation of solar panels there and $240,000 for a new forestry management truck to help clear downed trees and improve the county’s response to storm damage affecting our parks and trails.

Public Safety

·         Dane County Emergency Operations Center:

o   County Executive Parisi is proposing $5 million for construction of a new Dane County Emergency Operations Center and home for the county’s Department of Emergency Management. Emergency Management is currently located in the Public Safety Building and will need to move as a result of the jail consolidation project. These funds will help secure a new long term home for one of Dane County’s most critical county assets.

·         Dane County Sheriff and 911:

o   The budget has $3.5 million at the request of the Sheriff for renovation work needed to establish a new southeast precinct in Stoughton and around $700,000 for the acquisition of 13 new SUVs for patrol deputies. County dollars are being added to the 911 Center budget to replace lost state revenue that supported a shift supervisor position. 911 pre-hire positions will also be reclassified to full time new communicators to help with scheduling flexibility and reduce overtime.

·         New Snowplowing Technology:

o   The growth of the community has resulted in more multi-lane highways. The pending completion of the Verona Road expansion project, ongoing work to widen the interstate, and potential use of shoulders on the Beltline during peak travel times adds to the complexity of keeping roads safe in ice and snow.

o   The 2020 budget adds $2 million to purchase four “tow plows” and heavy duty quad-axle trucks to pull them. Tow plows are a relatively new line of equipment that allows a single truck to clear two lanes of highway at the same time with a single pass. This will help Dane County’s ability to keep traffic moving on the Beltline and Interstate. Given more lane miles are added to the county system with projects like Highway M on the west side of Madison and Verona, $1.4 million is being included to buy 4 more tri-axle highway trucks (plows).

The 2020 Budget 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.