MADISON, Wis. - Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said the overall tax levy in his 2013 budget is the lowest increase in 22 years.
The county's combined operating and capital budgets total $522 million. Parisi on Monday laid out a plan he titled a "Strengthening Our Communities" budget, highlighting the need to address the achievement gap, child abuse and drug abuse prevention, among other services.
The budget proposes a tax increase of $9.48 for the average Madison home, the lowest increase since 2009 and a 1.38 percent increase on this December's property tax bill. The overall levy increases total just more than $4.7 million, which Parisi said is the lowest overall levy increase in 22 years.
"One of the big reasons we can have this low levy is because our workers are going to be making less money next year than this year," Parisi said. "They're willing to make that sacrifice for the good of the whole and the good of the community."
Parisi is asking for a 2.92 percent increase in the tax levy, which is nearly the maximum allowed under current levy limits.
"You would expect the increases to be less because by state law, they had to be less," said Todd Berry with the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. "But, even so, the proposed close-to-3 percent property tax increase would still put Dane County in the top five counties in the state last year."
Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance found Dane County homeowners had the highest property taxes in the state.
Parisi said the county's portion of Madison's overall property tax is just 12 percent. The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance said the county tax burden is higher in smaller municipalities that don't spend as much as Madison.
The budget also assists those on waiting lists for developmental disabilities services, establishes a pilot fleet of highway plow trucks running on compressed gas, brings Wi-Fi to Dane County parks, creates a new Veterans Service Officer position and moves up timelines for some road projects, according to Parisi.
Parisi said the size of the county's general fund has quadrupled in the past year and stands to end the year with more than $11 million in reserves. Another $1 million would be added in the 2013 budget.
"This budget keeps us moving forward but does it in a way that's fiscally responsible. And it builds on a strong foundation. We've quadrupled our county reserve, and I can't stress enough the manner in which we put this budget together is what makes it such a strong budget," Parisi said.
The county executive's budget will now be sent to the Dane County board for review. A final approval should come in mid-November.
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