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Mayor-elect Soglin starts making changes in advance of Tuesday hand-off

Mayor-elect Soglin starts making changes in advance of Tuesday hand-off

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As he prepares to take office Tuesday, Mayor-elect Paul Soglin is already taking action — moving to ensure outside funds are secure before rebuilding the Central Library, suspending the process of putting Overture Center workers in other city jobs, and shuffling alder committee assignments.

Soglin said Friday he wants to make sure $8 million in private fundraising and $4 million in federal tax credits are guaranteed before going to bid on the $29.5 million library reconstruction.

The mayor-elect said the city had to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in private fundraising that never materialized for recent improvements at Lisa Link Peace Park on State Street, and doesn't want to repeat that outcome with the library.

"It certainly cannot happen when we are faced with the emerging budget challenges of next year," he said.

The Library Foundation is only beginning its formal fundraising campaign, and it's unclear if Soglin's approach would cause a delay. Final land use approvals are expected in May and construction is supposed to start in the fall.

"My hope is that we get though this and private fundraising kicks into high gear and we don't have a substantial delay," said Ald. Mike Verveer, 4th District, who represents the core Downtown.

Library Board President Tripp Widder could not be reached Friday.

Soglin stressed he's not out to delay or stop the project, but wants to be financially responsible. If most of the money is pledged or raised, it may be possible to move forward under existing time lines, he said.

On Overture, Soglin said he wants time to study the shift of operations from the Madison Cultural Arts District to the private, nonprofit Overture Center Foundation by Jan. 1, 2012, a deal approved by the City Council late last year.

Under that deal, Overture's represented employees can take jobs with the new operator or move into positions with the city to preserve pension and other benefits.

The delay on employee placement is the only part of the transition affected, said Overture spokesman Rob Chappell.

Also Friday, Soglin announced council appointments to the city's vast array of committees, making some of the most influential committees more liberal.

Soglin said committee changes are intended to bring gender balance, diversity and a mix of views.

The mayor-elect is removing outgoing council President Mark Clear and veteran Ald. Tim Bruer, 14th District, from the city's powerful finance committee, the Board of Estimates. New to the board are Ald. Larry Palm, 15th District, and Ald. Brian Solomon, 10th District. The new council president will also get a spot.

Soglin is also naming new Ald. Lisa Subeck, 1st District, to fill a vacancy on the Alcohol License Review Committee. And on the Plan Commission, Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, 5th District, and Ald. Chris Schmidt, 11th District, will fill vacancies while Ald. Marsha Rummel, 6th District, will replace Ald. Lauren Cnare, 3rd District.

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