Dane County Executive Joe Parisi says next year's budget was "the most difficult budget in Dane County's history."
The county had to close an $8 million deficit, which led to the layoff of 15 people, the elimination of 40 unfunded positions, and severe cuts in human services. Nevertheless, Parisi did find some wiggle room to push an agenda in Dane County.
"Where we can, we make investments," he says, calling them "modest" moves.
On the economic front, Parisi is creating an Office of Jobs and Prosperity, which will promote local foods, link growers with institutional buyers, and help parents and minorities find work, among other things.
There are also some green initiatives, including plans to build a $7 million highway garage. Located next to the Rodefeld Landfill, the new building will be powered and heated by methane gas from the landfill, taking it "off the grid." The facility will allow the county to stop leasing space for $100,000 a year and divert more trash out of the landfill, prolonging its life.
Another budget initiative that Parisi proposed is already getting blowback from the County Board. The county wants to acquire 163 acres at the northern boundary of Donald Park, in Springdale. The county would buy 95 acres from a private landowner for $520,000. The landowner would in turn donate another 68 acres. Part of that land would be set aside for farming, to help new farmers get started.
The board is scheduled to vote on the borrowing for this proposal Oct. 6.