City-County Building file stock photo

The Madison Finance Committee on Monday unanimously recommended providing $4.1 million to help fund three affordable housing projects on the East and Far West sides.

Committee members also delayed a vote on a $40 vehicle registration fee Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway has proposed as part of her 2019 operating budget and wants implemented early next year, and heard criticisms of her $340.4 million spending plan from residents concerned about the impact it would have on the Madison Police Department.

The three affordable housing developments would leverage $3.225 million from the city’s Affordable Housing fund and $900,000 in federal funds to create about 200 affordable housing units:

  • Up to $1.7 million for a 111-unit apartment complex with 94 affordable units by MSP Real Estate Inc. at 1212 Huxley St.
  • Up to $1.4 million for an 87-unit apartment complex with 73 affordable units by Age Better Inc. and Gorman & Co. at 8552 Elderberry Road.
  • Up to $1.025 million for a 38-unit apartment complex with 32 affordable units by Movin’ Out Inc. at 2340 Winnebago St.

Jim O’Keefe, the city’s community development director, said all of the affordable units would be for those with incomes at or below 60% of the county median income, or $49,560 for a family of three, but that some units would be affordable for those at 50% or 30% of the county median income.

Budget concerns

Criticisms of the mayor’s budget proposal on Monday centered around its lack of funding to hire more police officers and its plan to move parking enforcement officers out of the Police Department and into the city’s Parking Utility.

In July, former Police Chief Mike Koval said keeping police staffing flat will necessitate moving 12 positions back into regular patrol from units focused on neighborhood policing, gangs and other proactive work.

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“I’m here to ask for more police officers to be added to the operating budget,” said resident Wendy Reichel. She said forcing more officers to go on patrol will negatively impact police-community relations, reduce traffic stops for speeding or running red lights, and make neighborhoods less safe.

Rebecca Mugford, a parking enforcement officer, said she feared how her job would be affected if she were employed by the Parking Utility instead of the Police Department.

Kelly Powers, president of the Madison Professional Police Officers Association, said being housed under the Police Department gives parking officers access to important tools including the police radio and databases used to identify people, vehicle ownership and property.

Powers said losing those tools would put parking enforcement officers in a “compromised position.”

Parking enforcement officer Michael Parker said losing the tools would prevent him from identifying stolen vehicles. He said he found 50 last year.

Walt Jackson, vice president of the City of Madison Employees Association, which includes parking officers, said this is how the majority of stolen vehicles are found. He also noted that parking officers are part of the “family of MPD.”

The committee will finish hearing budget presentations from city departments on Thursday, and will then get a chance to propose amendments to the budget. Thursday is also when it will take up the wheel tax. Rhodes-Conway would like to see the timeline for implementing the fee accelerated so that the city could begin collecting it in February.

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Emily Hamer is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She joined the paper in April 2019 and was formerly an investigative reporting intern at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.