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Joe Parisi

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced his 2019 budget proposals Monday at the Dane County Airport. 

Reflecting on challenges seen by Dane County in the last year, including an explosion in Sun Prairie and widespread flooding, Executive Joe Parisi’s 2019 budget proposal for next year looks toward recovery and preparedness.

Parisi described the way communities in the county came together during times of crisis as the "Dane County way."

"Through it all and in the face of enormous adversity, uncertainty and sometimes fear, we came together and persevered." 

Parisi announced his proposed $557.3 million operating budget and $63.2 million capital budget Monday at the Dane County Regional Airport, which is slated for a major expansion that would exceed $50 million.

The proposed spending plans would increase the county’s property tax levy by 0.35 percent, which would be the lowest increase proposed by Parisi. Under the executive spending plan, a home valued at $285,000 would see county taxes drop $12.

Last week, Parisi announced that over $18 million is allocated in the budget for flood risk mitigation and managing the response to future extreme weather events, which Dane County is seeing more often. He also announced funding to expand a mobile crisis intervention team and continue crisis intervention training for local law enforcement officers.

Major projects in the proposed budget include $20 million for a “bold modernization and expansion” of the Dane County Regional Airport’s terminal. The estimated total cost could exceed $50 million and would expand the main terminal, add new gates, replace jet bridges and upgrade security, lighting, bathrooms and plumbing.

Parisi reported passenger use was up 20 percent in July and 8 percent over the previous year. 

“Given the vitality of our local economy and continued growth in both jobs and population there’s little reason to anticipate a decline in our airport’s performance anytime soon,” Parisi said in his budget message.

Parisi also announced a partnership with Madison Gas and Electric to develop 41 acres at the airport into a 20,000 panel solar field that would power more than 25 percent of the county’s total energy usage.

This would be the third largest solar project in Wisconsin.

"Growing renewable energy, being energy efficient as a community ... and electrifying transportation, which also is a significant contributor of carbon, are all strategies and opportunities to advance sustainability," MGE chairman, president and CEO Jeff Keebler said. 

Construction would begin next year after the Federal Aviation Administration and Public Service Commission grant final approvals.

“The project will increase local clean energy jobs, reduce carbon emissions, and lower energy bills,” Parisi said in his message.

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In other “green leadership” initiatives, Parisi has included $435,000 to turn Lake Farm County Park into the county’s first “Clean, Green Park,” which is an initiative designed to make outdoor public spaces more sustainable. The budget also includes $30,000 for a solar installation at the county’s parks department offices on Robertson Road and $50,000 for the Dane County Office on Climate Change to complete its modeling work on how the county can reduce carbon emissions.

The proposed budget also includes record funding levels for road construction, repair and maintenance. Parisi’s proposed highway capital budget totals $27.7 million with another $28.3 million included in the executive operating budget for day-to-day expenditures.

Included in the highway budget is $6 million for the county’s share of an agreement, pending an agreement with the city of Fitchburg, to being to reconstruct Fish Hatchery Road. It also includes $1.6 million for the reconstruction of Buckeye Road, pending an agreement with the city of Madison.

A major part of Dane County’s budget, 40.6 percent or over $219 million, funds human services. New and a continuation of funding for initiatives outlined in Parisi’s proposal includes:

  • $320,000 to expand emergency mobile mental health services
  • $25,000 to continue training conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness to inform local law enforcement officers on de-escalation tactics during mental health crisis situations
  • Continuing funding of an estimated $1 million for the Building Bridges school-based mental health team program, which now includes the Monona Grove School District
  • $87,900 to create a new position within the county’s Neighborhood Intervention Program to address sex trafficking
  • $175,000 to create a new team of social workers who will priorities families with children under the age of five and focus on the development needs of the children
  • $75,000 to create a new senior case manager position to improve direct service to seniors in the county
  • $67,000 in new county operating dollars for The Beacon, the Madison-based homeless day resource center
  • $210,000 to continue assistance for Porchlight’s Safe Haven program
  • $40,000 for Lutheran Social Services to maintain work at the Off the Square Club, a day shelter that provides services for community members with mental illness
  • Adding $50,000 to the county’s Eviction Prevention Fund, bringing the total to $150,000 available in 2019
  • $50,000 for a new housing navigator

The Dane County Board of Supervisors will begin budget deliberations Nov. 12. 

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Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.