Madison Mayor Paul Soglin presented the 2016 Executive Capital Budget Tuesday, which aims to improve infrastructure and drive economic growth while accommodating a diverse community.
The budget totals $295 million and requires $133 million in borrowing. However, Soglin received $200 million in requests from city agencies over the summer, but only allocated $130 million worth of requests in his proposal.
These cuts led to delays in the work on various construction projects, most notably the Midtown District police station. The police station, originally slated for completion in 2017, will now be on hold past 2021.
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval cited his desire for the Midtown project to alleviate burdens on surrounding districts and improve response times, especially as Madison’s population grows rapidly.
“We need to continue our efforts at decentralizing our agency and getting closer to the constituents we serve and those who are being underserved,” Koval wrote in a Tuesday blog post, noting he wants to build a new station to help the police force focus on their more immediate communities instead of increasing their overall workloads.
Soglin attempted to mitigate some of the effects of the cuts by providing $1.2 million for upgrades to the public safety radio system through 2021.
Other projects receiving delays were a public market and new neighborhood centers.
Soglin acknowledged the delays in many projects, but stressed the importance of balancing the budget without too much borrowing.
“These projects are important but need to be balanced against the overall city priorities,” Soglin said.
Major infrastructure and economic development projects did get funding in the 2016 budget, most notably the Judge Doyle Square project, a $200 million downtown proposal to build new office, retail and hotel space at the current site of the aging Madison Municipal Building and Government East parking garage.
The budget allots $57.4 million in public funding to Judge Doyle Square, though Common Council President Denise DeMarb, District 16, delayed public testimony on the funding until the Council’s next meeting Sept. 15.
Madison’s Housing First program, which helps the homeless with challenges such as substance abuse and mental illness, will also receive significant funding, as Soglin included $6 million for affordable housing.
“Our biggest challenge is to tell the truth about the city’s commitment to affordable housing… in this year’s budget,” Soglin said.
Further discussion in Common Council and public hearings will occur over the next two months, with the budget expected to pass in mid-November.