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Mayor discusses 2011 budget

Despite a difficult economy, Madison Mayor Paul Finley remains positive about the proposed 2011 budget for the city.

At the next city council meeting Sept. 13, Finley will present the budget to the council.

The proposed budget is $47,008,565, not including the Capital Improvement Plan.

The general fund budget is for $30,679,658, a decrease of 12 percent, or $37,010, from last year’s estimated amount.

Although total revenues are projected to decrease by $886,408, sales taxes, property taxes, licenses and permits are projected to increase 3 percent.

“Revenues have remained stagnant over the last few years, yet expenses haven’t,” Finley said. “Needless to say, we had our work cut out for us with this budget.”

Finley was quick to point out many positives about this year’s budget, which include no tax increases, no reduction in city services and no employee layoffs.

“The good news is we will not raise taxes and we will not diminish any city services,” Finley said. “We will work within our means while our residents still get a high value for their tax dollars.”

There are a few changes in the proposed budget that will affect city employees, including a 15 percent insurance rate hike, limited overtime, no cost of living adjustment and no performance step increases for the first time since the early ‘90s.

“The reality of it is the recession has hit all levels and we must all share some of the burden,” Finley said. “The most difficult part of this budget is with our employees because I see how hard they work each and every day.

“They are shouldering some of the burden and it’s difficult knowing that,” he added.

Also included in the budget is funding to complete the Madison Growth Plan.

“It was critical we put that in there to give Madison residents the voice they deserve to define who we’re going to be 10 to 20 years down the road,” Finley said.

The budget also calls for the city to maximize the public works department CIP team by focusing on street projects such as sidewalks, greenways, ditches, the new police parking lot, paving, pothole repairs and striping.

“We’re maximizing what we already have,” Finley said.

The budget also calls for a 10 percent reduction for non-departmental appropriations, including funds to organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Beautification Board and more.

“When you talk quality of life, having to cut the entities that are supporting areas the city can’t or shouldn’t, it hurts,” Finley said.

While cuts have been made across the board, Finley was upbeat about several economic development and destination spot projects, including the revitalization of Historic Downtown Madison, the new Madison Hospital, the new high school, the Hogan YMCA and the county satellite license office.

With the projects coming to a close either later this year or next year, Finley said the city will be back on track in 2012.

“It just hasn’t happened yet,” Finley said. “We’re making sure we can weather the storm, but the horizon is bright. Madison’s future is extremely bright.”

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