Standing in front of Lake Monona today, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway announced her over $368 million capital budget proposal for 2023.
Combined with a six-year capital improvement plan also announced this morning, the proposals guide major projects, like infrastructure and new construction. Alongside the operating budget, the capital budget and six-year improvement plan drives the city’s fiscal planning for the next year.
The main project in today’s announcement: transportation, or more specifically, bus transportation.
That includes $23 million for the purchase of electric buses for Bus Rapid Transit.
The budget also includes almost $50 million for an intercity bus terminal housed at the State Street Parking Garage. That project, which is slated to begin next year, would include an indoor waiting area in the State Street parking garage, as well as housing above the garage.
Also included in the budget is the beginning of a major reconstruction of John Nolan Drive, which is slated to begin in 2026. Rhodes-Conway says that John Nolan Drive should be an eye popping introduction to the city of Madison.
“In this budget, I am investing $21 million in federal and local funds to rebuilding John Nolan Drive, including its aging causeways, bridges, and bike paths. Coupled with our Lake Monona Waterfront Design Competition, we are laying the foundation for a new Madison waterfront that serves both as a gateway to downtown, and as an accessible park for visitors and residents alike,” Rhodes-Conway says.
The next big ticket item in the budget is a focus on housing, starting with $3 million dollars to build the new permanent men’s homeless shelter on the city’s east side. Using funding from both the city, county, and already secured federal funds, the $21 million facility is expected to begin construction in 2024.
Additionally, Mayor Rhodes-Conway says that the budget will also invest $60 million dollars over six years in affordable housing across the city.
“In the Bayview neighborhood, development is underway for 130 affordable housing units, a beautiful community room, and other amenities. On the east side, Movin Out and Red Caboose are building a four-story building to include 32 affordable units and a childcare center right in the building. In the Union Corners area, a whole new community is taking shape right on a transit line,” Rhodes-Conway says.
Finally, the mayor’s proposed budget includes investments in communities and neighborhoods. On top of over $12 million over 6 years to improve bike paths around Madison, it also includes $15 million for construction of an Imagination Center at Reindahl park, and $5 million to expand the Warner Park Community Center.
The total cost of the 2023 capital budget comes to $368.4 million, almost $14 million more than the 2022 capital budget. Mayor Rhodes-Conway says there are multiple reasons why this year’s budget is larger than the last – but a main factor is inflation.
“But to be frank, inflation has hit everything in our community, including our capital budget. We’ve had to really scrutinize projects and make some decisions about what will go forward in the next year, and what we will put off for a year or two more based on the inflation we’re seeing,” Rhodes-Conway says.
Notably absent from the budget is increased funding for the Madison Public Market, which is now running $5 million over its budget. Mayor Rhodes-Conway says that that shortcoming is just too steep.
“At this point in time, the gap in funding is large enough that I don’t feel comfortable moving forward on my own. I need to discuss with the finance committee and the council as a whole to understand what their level of support is for the project, and we will be doing that in the coming weeks,” Rhodes-Conway says.
The Public Market Foundation, the group spearheading the project, told WORT last week that, if the $5 million was not included in the mayor’s budget, they will call on the city’s Finance Committee to add the money to next year’s budget instead.
This capital budget will be introduced at tonight’s Common Council meeting.
The mayor’s operating budget proposal is expected to be released next month. That’s the budget that deals with day-to-day expenses, like services, staffing, and programs.
City leaders will spend the next few months hashing out both spending plans, and alders can propose amendments to the budgets. Both the capital and operating budgets are slated to be finalized in mid-November.
Photo courtesy: Nate Wegehaupt / WORT News Team