Dane County Exec. Kathleen Falk warned that without knowing what the state Legislature will do, the budget could change significantly over the next few months.
With the state budget still being hammered out, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk has to do a lot of guessing.
At a press conference Monday announcing her 2008 budget, Falk noted there were "hundreds" of budget lines that are affected by the lack of a state budget.
"I had to make my best guesstimate at what I think the numbers will be," she said.
Falk's proposed $460 million budget includes $5 million for the county's Conservation Fund, $100,000 in gang prevention programs, and adds 12 new staffers to the Sheriff's Office. Falk also proposes spending $500,000 to expand the Early Childhood Initiative, which is currently operating only in Allied Drive, to two more neighborhoods. (The county has not yet identified the new sites, but anticipates that one will be in Madison and the other in another municipality, such as Verona or Sun Prairie.)
Falk also restored $100,000 in funding for motel vouchers for the homeless and a $60,000 contract with Valley Packaging, which is a sheltered workshop for people with mental health problems or other disabilities.
The $460 million operating and capital budget represents a $10.7 million increase over last year's total. If approved, the budget would hike property taxes by 3.3%.
But Falk warned that without knowing what the state Legislature will do, the budget could change significantly over the next few months as millions of dollars are either cut or added.
"Human services is the most profoundly impacted," Falk noted.
For example, while the Legislature has agreed to increase the fees counties pay when teenagers are sent to state institutions (Dane County will pay about $900,000 next year under the plan), lawmakers are still arguing over how much counties should get for youth programs that keep kids out of trouble. Gov. Jim Doyle has proposed giving Dane County $1.1 million next year, which is the figure Falk used for her budget.
The Dane County Board must now approve the budget. County Board chair Scott McDonell called Falk's budget a "good start." But he added, "Anything could happen with the Assembly and the Senate. And that's what's worrying me right now."