July 27, 2005

Madison's Spending Challenge

Phil Brinkman summarizes the implications of the recently signed State budget on the City of Madison:

Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk said the limit on counties is "very comparable" to one she has insisted Dane County abide by in its budget. She predicted it wouldn't affect county operations.

But Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said the budget will force hard choices in Madison, which will be limited to increasing its levy to no more than 4 percent next year, below the 5.7 percent average of the last 15 years (emphasis added).

The city faces $9.5 million in increased costs to continue existing services next year, Cieslewicz said, but will be limited under the cap to collecting about $6 million more in property taxes.

Although the city is growing, police, fire, streets and other agencies would have to cut their budgets 2.1 percent from what it would cost to maintain the same level of services, Cieslewicz spokesman George Twigg said. The city could also raise fees and fines, as it has done before, or dip more deeply than usual into its "rainy day fund" to help cover the gap.

Madison's 5.7% average levy increase over the past 15 years is not sustainable, given the State's generally slow economy. City leaders need to start thinking different, rather than continuing with a "same service" approach.

Posted by James Zellmer at July 27, 2005 12:05 AM | Subscribe to this site via RSS:
Posted to Taxes