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Category: Public Policy News

Here you’ll find out who’s making the decisions shaping our community: Policy-makers are always busy creating new ways to advance the Madison region. Stay informed on the latest policies that may impact the way you do business.

Photo by Richard Hurd

Mayor Rhodes-Conway Introduces 2024 Operating Budget

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway introduced her 2024 Executive Operating Budget earlier this week, proposing a 5.9 percent increase in spending from the 2023 budget.

The largest share of the budget comes from public health and safety expenditures, followed by general fund debt service and public works. If adopted, taxes on the average home will rise 3.7 percent, equating to $108.82 for a home valued at $424,400. Notably, the average-value home increased 12.6 percent from the prior year, demonstrating continued growth in property assessments.

In her summary statement, the mayor expressed concern with state-imposed levy limits, as well as limited additional revenue tools to fund the fast-growing city. This will also be the last budget where the city can leverage federal funds distributed in response to the pandemic to help balance the budget. As a result, the mayor calls the budget forecast beyond 2025 “bleak.”

Some notable highlights of the budget include:

  • $13.7 million increase to restore the Metro transit subsidy that was removed in the 2023 budget.
  • 6 percent cost of living increase for General Municipal Employees.
  • 5 percent cost of living increase for certain contracts with community organizations.
  • $2.2 million increase in general fund debt service payments.
  • $1.5 million increase to support elections administration.

The budget goes to the city’s Finance Committee next, followed by full Common Council consideration in November.

Photo by Richard Hurd

Chamber Announces Endorsements for Madison Mayor, Common Council 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (March 8, 2023) 
Contact: Erik Greenfield, 608-443-1952 (office), 608-669-7884 (cell)

Chamber Announces Endorsements for Madison Mayor, Common Council 
Business backs candidates focused on strengthening economy, supporting growing workforce

MADISON – Today the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors announced their endorsements in the April 4 elections for Madison Mayor and Madison Common Council. The endorsement of the 48-member Chamber board signals a candidate’s strength on business and economic issues and is based on several factors, including alignment with the Chamber’s Emergence advocacy agenda.

“After a period of unprecedented challenges, there is a need for steady leadership to help us capitalize on the opportunities ahead for Greater Madison,” said Chamber President Zach Brandon. “Through their focus on important issues such as workforce housing, transportation and inclusive economic growth, these candidates represent the clear choices for long-term success for Madison and our region.”

For Mayor of Madison, the Chamber endorsed Satya Rhodes-Conway for re-election.

In addition, the Chamber endorsed the following candidates for Madison Common Council:

District 1: John W. Duncan
District 2: Colin Barushok
District 3: Derek Field
District 4: Mike Verveer
District 5: Regina Vidaver
District 6: Davy Mayer
District 7: Nasra Wehelie
District 8: Charlie Fahey
District 10: Sheri Carter
District 11: Bill Tishler
District 12: Amani Latimer Burris
District 14: Isadore Knox Jr.
District 15: Brad Hinkfuss
District 16: Jael Currie
District 18: Charles Myadze
District 19: John Guequierre
District 20: Barbara McKinney

About the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce: 
The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business with more than 1,200 organizations – ranging from one-person shops to corporations with more than 10,000 employees – working to bring the Greater Madison area to its full potential. The Greater Madison region is a leader in innovation. From cutting-edge technologies to distinctive retail shops to inventive services and products, our members vary greatly but are united by the region’s entrepreneurial spirit. More information can be found at madisonbiz.com

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Madison Common Council Passes 2023 Operating and Capital Budgets

The Madison Common Council approved the Mayor’s 2023 Operating and Capital Budgets last night, following two nights of debate that included 24 proposed amendments on topics including a new low-income bus pass program, adding funding to support the Madison Public Market project, adding funding for the Turman Olson Grocery Development project and increasing alder and city employee pay. 

Amendments such as the creation of a subsidized low-income bus pass program and funds for the River Food Pantry failed. Approved amendments included $4.5 million for the Madison Public Market; funds for police squad cars and six new officers funded through a grant; added funding to support Associates in Commercial Real Estate, a program that produces and prioritizes developers of color; and increasing the salary for city council members.

Following budget passage, the property tax levy will now be $273,679,349, which is less than the estimated maximum levy of $273,684,358. The amount of maximum General Obligation Borrowing is $288,477,981, which includes the new appropriations authorized by the passage of the amendments.

Photo by Richard Hurd

Mayor Proposes New City of Madison Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Program

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway is proposing a new Transportation Demand Management (TDM) program that would place new requirements on certain development and redevelopment projects with goals to decrease single-occupancy vehicle travel and increase transit-oriented development and public transit ridership. Currently, TDM plans are required for certain land uses, particularly for larger development projects. While flexible in its approach, the ambiguity and inconsistency in the standards can create hardship during the development approval process. The new program seeks to provide clear mitigation options to reduce subjectivity and streamline the approval process.

The Chamber supports these objectives, along with the need to address increasing congestion on our roads and encourage urban infill transit-oriented development projects. However, the program as currently drafted has several potential unintended consequences to both new development and redevelopment projects with an arguably minimal, at best, impact on the desired outcomes.

Recognizing that access to transit is limited in certain parts of the city, especially on the periphery, the proposal lowers the mitigation point total needed to gain approval in outlying areas. Despite this reduced threshold, employers may still need to take actions like reducing and/or charging employees for parking and providing complimentary bus passes, even when the employer and employees are not adequately served by convenient, accessible transit options. The program essentially passes the cost to businesses – including a filing fee and biannual recertification fee – without increasing transit ridership.

TDM is not new in Madison or in other major metropolitan areas. The difference is that successful TDM programs occur in areas with a regional, multi-modal transportation network in place that provides convenient transit options for users. Madison isn’t there yet, but the Chamber will continue to partner with the city and regional stakeholders to aggressively pursue funding opportunities to advance transit services, just as the Chamber supported the development of Bus Rapid Transit service.

With shared goals, the Chamber will continue to work with policymakers to address these concerns and make the program more manageable and more effective. The proposal will receive its first hearing at the city’s Plan Commission on Nov. 21, followed by the Transportation Commission on Nov. 30.  

If you have questions on the proposal or would like to share your thoughts with the Chamber, please contact David Aguayo at david@madisonbiz.com.

Photo by Richard Hurd

Madison Operating Budget Introduced

Earlier this week, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway introduced her proposed 2023 Operating Budget. The budget, which pays for much of what is considered basic services, totals $381.9 million, a six percent increase in spending from last year and the highest year-over-year increase since 2009.

The increase is in part attributable to one-time spending items, including employee payments and funding for a private-public endowment to support on-going homeless shelter operating costs. Also adding to the increase is the amount of spending to pay back borrowing (debt service), which increases nearly 10 percent.

Efforts to balance the budget is benefited by the successful closure of TID 25 downtown ($6.9 million windfall) and increased state and local revenues. The property tax levy increases by $14.2 million (5.5 percent), due in part to the Town of Madison annexation and net new construction. If approved, taxes on the average home ($376,900) would increase by nearly 4 percent ($110.97).

Among the Mayor’s budgeted priorities are:

  • Salary increases and one-time payments for all employees
  • Expansion of Madison CARES program to 7 days a week
  • Increased funding for the Public Health Department’s Violence Prevention Team
  • Increased funding for the Police Department
  • Funding for Vision Zero traffic safety programs and infrastructure
  • Expansion of staffing and hours at Public Health Madison & Dane County’s reproductive health clinic
  • Expansion of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund
  • Funding for a new Mad-CAP program which assists low-income households pay for municipal service bills
  • Funding for youth employment and internship opportunities

See full budget here.

Finance Committee hearings on the budget begin next week, with council deliberations occurring in mid-November.