Executive Falk Signs 2007 County Budget
November 21, 2006
Joanne Haas, Office of County Executive (608) 267-8823; cell (608) 669-5606
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today signed her 10th consecutive annual budget, thanking the County Board of Supervisors for working with her to build a $450 million document that caps a decade dedicated to fiscal discipline and her top priorities of public safety, human services and stewardship of water and land.
“I did not use my veto pen. I didn’t have to because the County Board and I worked together as my budget went through the committee process,” Falk said during the morning signing ceremony. “And, the hard work also was evident the night the County Board passed the budget. It took only one night to complete the process that started months ago. I especially want to thank County Board Chairman Scott McDonell and Personnel and Finance Committee Chairman Brett Hulsey.
“As I’ve said before, this is a darn good budget,” she said. “It does a lot for our citizens, and it does it in an fiscally responsible way.”
The 2007 operating budget proposed to the County Board by Falk totaled $419,239,607, an increase of 3.7 percent from 2006’s operating budget of $404,247,576. The overall proposed executive budget, which includes operating and capital plans, totaled $447,979,585 -- an increase of 4.63 percent from 2006. These were maintained in the final document.
The $450 million executive operating and capital budget includes a property tax increase lower than Falk’s self-imposed levy limit determined by the county’s population growth and inflation.
The County levy increase in 2007 will be 4.88 percent from this year – an increase of just under $16 for an average Madison home of $240,000. The property tax levy covers about $110 million of the total budget.
Falk had proposed a 4.85 percent levy increase in her executive budget, and the County Board changed that by $32,000.
The budget also maintains a budget reserve of $9,867,184 to keep the County’s valuable AAA bond rating. Only two Wisconsin counties have this top designation for fiscal management. The bond rating for governments or corporations is comparable to an individual’s credit score.
Other highlights of the 2007 budget include:
-- Nearly $11 million for additional personnel, vehicles and equipment for the Dane County Sheriff’s department, including three additional detectives and two deputies.
-- Additional crime/victim witness specialist for the District Attorney.
-- $4.2 million for the pending Huber/Alcohol and other Drug Addictions facility – one of the nation’s few to combine these functions aimed at stopping the cycle of crime and addictions.
-- $157,000 for the training and technology upgrades for the Priority Dispatch program for fire emergencies. Dane County will be Wisconsin’s first to use this program designed to aid dispatchers when determining which equipment to send to handle the crisis.
-- More than $150,000 to expand mental health efforts to reduce costly institutionalization. Falk and the County Board also reallocated $114,000 to keep persons with mental illnesses out of jail.
-- $700,000 to reduce service waiting lists for adults with developmental disabilities.
-- $28 million for a new Badger Prairie Nursing Home
-- $1.5 million for new Land and Water Legacy Fund to cover land protection, key to water quality improvement, as well as restorations of stream banks and wetlands and storm sewer improvements.
-- $5 million for the New Conservation Fund
“It was the teamwork of county managers, department heads, staffers and County board supervisors who rallied together to keep the tax increase at a minimum, avoid layoffs and meet the goals of safety, service and stewardship,” Falk said.
Falk said she is eager to continue her work on these top goals in 2007. “I’m especially excited to put our new Land and Water Legacy Fund into action,” she said. “And another big project will be establishing what may be among the nation’s first -- combining a Huber facility with alcohol and other drug addiction treatment.”