July 6, 2005

Konkel Deconstructs the City Budget

Very useful reading:
So, lets take a look at the $44 million police department budget. (Hey – I’ve already burned this bridge, I might as well just go with it.) At this point your eyes have probably glazed over, but don’t worry, it’s all of three pages long with lots of white space. Clicking on the link is an illuminating experience. You will find that for 2005 we have two programs in the police department. Field Operations which are $39,373,690 and Support Operations which are $4,718,020. There is a one paragraph description of these services. Additionally, in this case there are 6 “budget highlights” to further inform you about changes from last year’s budget. Then, on page 3 there is the break down into the 9 budget line items. Are you hungry for more information? Permanent Salary Detail will show you each of the positions in the department along with Workers Comp, Premium Pay and Vacation/Comp time accrued. This accounts for $26 million of the budget. You can also look at Minor Objects to find out that purchased services is $1.4 million, supplies are $750,000, there is $2.6 million in inter-departmental charges and $6,000 for debt/other financing. On the bottom you can see that they charge $1.1 million to grants and other departments. Finally, you can see that they are spending $18,000 in Capital Objects. If you were following along only a little, you now realize that the detail doesn’t add up to $44 million. Where’d the rest of the money go? The "details" only add up to about $31 million.
The growing tax squeeze facing Madison residents (taxes growing at a faster rate than incomes) makes budget transparency a necessity. The current local spending increases, given sluggish economic growth are simply not sustainable. I applaud the folks at dane101 for getting this rolling. Posted by James Zellmer at July 6, 2005 11:44 AM | Subscribe to this site via RSS:
Posted to Politics | Taxes