Without wheel tax, options include closing a fire station, laying off police

MADISON (WKOW) — Without approval of a $40 wheel tax, the city of Madison is considering closing a fire station, layoffs and ending programs in order to balance the budget.

A key piece of Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway’s proposed budget is the wheel tax, formally known as a vehicle registration fee, which would fund a variety of transportation projects in the city. Funding transportation would free up tax revenue for other portions of the budget.

The Finance Committee on Monday delayed a vote on approval of the wheel tax and will take up the proposal again Thursday.

The city wheel tax could begin early in 2020. The fee would be in addition to the Dane County wheel tax of $28 and an $85 state fee, making the total cost to register a vehicle in Madison $153.

The totality of the tax supports Madison Metro Transit. The money will help fund bus rapid transit studies, offsetting increased operating costs and freeing up $3.6 million of property taxes which could then be put toward other city services.

If the council turned down the fee, they could restructure the budget to make up the $7.8 million the tax generates.

A city budget document spells out several scenarios, none of which involve cuts to metro or other transportation services:

  • ALL AGENCY PROPOSED CUTS: $6.5 MILLION
  • Agencies proposed 2.5% reductions totaling $6.5 million
  • Cuts from Police & Fire are $3.2 million (50 percent) of the proposed reduction.
  • These cuts include:
  • Closing a Fire Station
  • Eliminating 18 Police Officers & the Crossing Guard program

ELIMINATING PAY INCREASES: $2.0 MILLION

  • The Executive Budget maintains equity in compensation for City employees by providing 3.25% for all non-represented groups
  • Eliminating the pay increase will hold salaries at their 2019 levels

COST-TO-CONTINUE/NEW INITIATIVES FUNDED IN BUDGET: $3.8 MILLION

  • Newly created positions
  • Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist
  • Additional staffing in the Clerk’s office in advance of the 2020 Elections
  • Teen Librarian at Goodman Library & Teen Specialist at Warner Park

LAYOFFS/ATTRITION: 12 POSITIONS=$1.0 MILLION

  • Based on the average salary in the 2020 budget including benefits
  • Layoffs would likely hit agencies within Public Works and Administrative functions

COMMUNITY SERVICE CONTRACT REDUCTIONS: 10%=$1.0 MILLION

  • General Fund support for contract is up from $9.5m in 2019 to $10.0m in the 2020 Executive Budget
  • Reductions would likely result in across the board cuts (up to 10%) to non-profit providers

 

Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak

Social Media and Digital Content Manager, 27 News

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