Some members of Madison's Common Council have challenged, so far without success, the mayor's plans to include money for a downtown library and renovated Edgewater Hotel in his 2010 capital budget. But one area where they seem eager to increase spending is on city parks.
Several alders have proposed amendments to add parks projects. Ald. Mike Verveer proposed $120,000 to finish restoring and add bathrooms to the Brittingham Boathouse, the oldest public building in Madison. Alds. Bridget Maniaci and Mark Clear proposed $40,000 for signs, banners and landscaping at Breese Stevens Field and $15,000 for recreational equipment and seating at Reynolds Field. Alds. Verveer, Satya Rhodes-Conway and Shiva Bidar-Sielaff proposed $125,000 to renovate Olive Jones Park, which is also the playground for Randall School.
One reason the alders are being so generous is that the money doesn't come from the general fund and won't affect the tax rate. Most of it comes from impact fees: money developers or homebuilders pay when constructing new residential property, in lieu of providing green space. The impact fees can't be used for maintenance or operating costs, but they can go for capital improvements.
Some alders were unaware the money was available, but the comptroller's office included the fund information in the budget. Ald. Paul Skidmore would like to consider using the money from impact fees "to build new police stations and fire stations as well."