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The big Madison budget amendments, explained

MADISON (WKOW) — Tonight the Madison Common Council votes on the city’s operating budget and capital budget.

Before approving the spending plans, the council will first consider a series of amendments offered by alders on each budget. The scopes of these amendments range between adding more police officers, committing to borrowing millions of dollars and renaming a study.

The city posted summaries of both the capital and operating amendments to its website Friday. Here are some of the highlights:

The Madison Fire Department took to the chief’s blog Monday to make the case for why Madison’s need for a ninth ambulance is “urgent.” An amendment to the capital budget would authorize the purchase of another EMS unit for the city.

The proposal offered by Alders Zachary Henak and Michael Tierney estimates the amount the city would need to borrow at least $387,000 over the next two years. The ambulance’s maintenance costs run $33,250 in the first year and $66,500 thereafter.

A trio of amendments aims to add 10 full-time firefighter positions to staff the proposed ninth ambulance. Each offers a different method to fund additional emergency workers. All three estimate $826,000 in yearly salary, benefits and other costs.

The first, sponsored by Henak and Tierney, eliminates a police auditor and reduces park funding to come up with over $454,000 in annual savings. The remaining money would come from higher spending. The amendment proposes the new firefighters begin work in 2021.

The second frees up all of the money needed by cutting various positions including two accountants and Pinney Library staffing. However, the largest cut, $330,000, comes from bus rapid transit employees in the Metro budget. This proposal is sponsored by Alders Tierney and Paul Skidmore. The new firefighters would begin their academy training in July of 2020.

The final option, sponsored by Henak and Teirney, moves $115,000 from the Community Development Division to the fire department and cuts two new Metro positions totaling $150,000. The remaining funding is made up by reducing the police auditor by $75,000 and approving additional spending.

A pair of proposals call for the city to borrow either $59,300 or $118,600 for one or two police cars respectfully. Alders Michael Verveer and Christian Albouras offered the capital budget amendments.

The proposals, if passed, authorize the purchase of the car or cars in 2020.

Two amendments to the operating budget would add more police officers.

Henak and Teirney sponsor a proposal to create six full-time police positions. They would fund the new hires by reducing raises for municipal employees by 0.25% and cutting funding to other line items including bus rapid transit studies. The proposal estimates the officers would cost $335,830 in 2020 and then $536,400 in the following years.

Alders Verveer and Albouras sponsor an amendment to add three full-time police officers. It raises the estimated $168,000 needed in 2020 by pulling $45,000 from the Planning Division and then increasing spending. Three more officers will cost $268,000 in 2021 and beyond, according to the proposal.

Alders Patrick Heck and Tag Evers offered a capital budget amendment designed to increase funding for affordable housing projects by $500,000 annually. If adopted, the proposal brings the city’s affordable housing budget to $5.5 million per year. Future capital budgets could adjust this figure further.

Alders Grant Foster and Rebecca Kemble proposed borrowing an additional $500,000 in the capital budget to ensure a series of studies to implement bus rapid transit are fully funded. The amendment marks the bonding for 2020.

Alder Samba Baldeh offered the most expensive capital budget amendment. It calls for $12.1 million in borrowing for the construction of a new library in the city’s northeast.

The city would bond the first $1.1 million in 2021 and the remaining $11 million in 2022. The amendment also estimates $4.5 million in donations would cover the rest of the costs for construction.

The price tag for the library runs $16.6 million.

A capital amendment offered by Alders Marsha Rummel and Foster creates two new two new train quiet zones on the isthmus. If approved, the city would construct the two quiet zones in 2024.

The first would run from Brearly Street to Blount Street and cost $1 million. The second spans between Fair Oaks and Sugar Avenue at a $500,000 price point.

Both projects would draw profits off of two tax incremental finance districts, TID 36 and TID 37.

JT Cestkowski

Social Media Content Producer/Desk Editor

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