Today, at a fire station on Madison’s south side, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway unveiled her 2022 operating budget.
That’s the budget that guides day-to-day spending, employees’ salaries and spending on some materials and supplies. Alongside the capital budget and the capital improvement plan, it drives the city’s fiscal planning for the next year.
This piece of that planning comes in at $358.6 million.
City leaders are going into this year’s budget negotiations facing an $18 million deficit. Despite that hurdle, Rhodes-Conway says that this year’s operating budget will result in a 1.1% property tax hike — or about $34 for the average homeowner, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Rhodes-Conway says that’s the smallest property tax hike in two decades.
As part of this budget proposal, the mayor wants to increase staffing in some city departments in anticipation of a sudden population spike on Halloween 2022.
On that day, parts of the Town of Madison will be attached to the City of Madison. The Mayor says she wants to allocate about $1.4 million to fund public services for the additional residents gained during attachment.
“Our key goal is to ensure that we can provide high-quality and equitable service to the approximately 5,000 people who will become city residents,” Rhodes-Conway told reporters today. “These new residents are more diverse than our current population. Over 27% of the town’s population is LatinX, compared to just under seven percent in the city. And the town’s Black population is over thirteen percent, compared to just 7.3% in the city.”
The operating budget includes funds for eight new Madison police officers, ten more firefighters, and more staffing to manage streets, voting, parks, and social services.
Funding for the Madison Police Department makes up almost a quarter of this budget, or more than $84 million. And under this proposal, cops would get $1.2 million more than in 2021.
Some of that money will fund the new police officers, and some will go towards a new Police Reform and Innovation Director.
“This position will use data-driven methods to create new strategies for exemplary policing, police reform, reducing disparities and violence prevention,” Rhodes-Conway says.
The mayor is also proposing more than one million dollars to kick off a five-year violence prevention plan that was introduced by Public Health Madison and Dane County earlier this year.
And finally, Rhodes-Conway is asking for additional funding for affordable housing projects — including nearly $6.6 million to expand low-cost housing options and $2 million for homelessness service operations.
“That also includes funding a renter’s choice program that will reduce barriers for renting for tenants that may otherwise be screened out of the process due to damage reports or low credit scores,” she says.
The operating budget proposal is the second budget to come out of the mayor’s office this year.
Rhodes-Conway introduced the capital budget in August. That budget covers major construction, transportation, park maintenance, and equipment purchases.
City leaders will spend the next several weeks hashing out both spending plans. Both the capital and operating budgets are slated to be finalized by the second week of November.
PHOTO: Jonah Chester