City-County Building

Madison's Finance Committee recommended the 2020 Capital Budget after approving several 13 amendments. 

Madison’s Finance Committee added 13 of 15 proposed amendments to the city's 2020 Capital Budget at its Monday meeting.

With the committee’s changes, the capital budget as amended totals $172 million, relying on $93.7 million in general obligation borrowing and $78.3 million from other funds. Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway’s proposed capital budget, introduced Sept. 3, includes $170.6 million in new spending that depends on on $96.6 million in borrowing and $73.9 million from other sources.

Among the changes, the committee voted to add $75,000 to fund design costs for updating the lighting under Monona Terrace on John Nolen Drive. Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the proposal was influenced by the shooting that took place during Shake the Lake fireworks event in July.

The design will be focused on lighting upgrades but will also highlight other issues, including stormwater mitigation efforts. The total project cost is unknown at this time but will be established through the design process.

“This is a longstanding issue, but the shooting definitely brought more urgency to it,” city traffic engineer Yang Tao said.

The committee voted to refer a decision on the Reindahl Imagination Center, a proposal for a new library with additional services to be located in Reindahl Park on the east side, to Nov. 12.

Rhodes-Conway included the $16.6 million project on the Horizon List, which is a new method she started to account for items that need additional planning before being included in the capital budget.

“The purpose of the Horizon List is not to delay projects but rather to make sure that projects that actually make it into the CIP are ready to go in the year that they are placed in, that we know what the cost will be of the item and that that item is either planned or has a clear path toward being planned,” Rhodes-Conway said.

Ald. Samba Baldeh, District 17, offered an amendment restoring the proposal to the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). Baldeh strongly advocated for the project, arguing that the project has been approved by the City Council in previous budget cycles and is needed to fill service gaps on the east side.

Reindahl Park, 91 acres near the intersection of East Washington Avenue and Portage Road, showed the greatest potential for serving the most people in need, while also utilizing area resources and maintaining a visible civic presence, according to a 2016 library plan for strategic growth.

“If we are talking about equity and fairness and access to services in the city, this is project number one that we should finance,” Baldeh said.

The committee also added $700,000 for a mini park at the city-owned plaza next to the Madison Senior Center, 330 W. Mifflin St. and $35,000 for security cameras at five library branches that include Lakeview, Hawthorne, Alicia Ashman, Sequoya and Monroe Street.

Another amendment advances $60,000 the mayor included in 2022 for less lethal Madison Police Department tools, which could include increased training or tasers.

The committee also voted to add the construction of a $1.25 million burn tower, a training tool used by the Madison Fire Department, to the Horizon List. 

“I am confident that putting it back on the Horizon List is a good spot for it,” Fire Chief Steven Davis said. “I just don’t want to lose it in the politics of your budgeting.”

The amendment included a directive that there must be an approved policy direction regarding the construction of a fire training center before the burn tower can be included in a future CIP.

The City Council has the opportunity to make more amendments to the capital budget before voting on it during the week of Nov. 11.

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to tctvoice@madison.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.