Soglin will not sign budget; budget with tax levy increase passes

Soglin wanted funding to go toward pay increase for city employees
Soglin will not sign budget; budget with tax levy increase passes
Paul Soglin

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin will not sign the city council’s version of the city budget, forgoing a veto and allowing the budget to pass.

In a statement released by Soglin on Wednesday, he said he doesn’t support increasing revenues without increasing pay for city employees. He had earlier threatened a veto, saying he was worried all the spending could mean layoffs or cuts in future years.

The budget increases the tax levy by 2.23 percent and will increase the taxes on the average home by $61, according to city officials.

On the operating budget, Soglin proposed increasing pay for public employees who are not first responders to 2 percent, but that proposal failed 13-5 at Tuesday night’s meeting.

“After three years of steady progress in addressing the issues of fiscal responsibility and a commitment to solving the challenges of poverty and equity, the amendments made to the budget represent a step backwards,” Soglin said in a statement.

Soglin said it was clear any veto would be overwritten.

There were concerns about the timing of the increase, which came after the budget passed and takes money from the city’s rainy day fund.

There were also dramatic moments at Tuesday night’s meeting when Soglin took issue with forest fees being increased, and $100,000 going to the Madison Sports Authority. Soglin said that funding should go toward raises for employees, but that proposal failed.

“I ask you, what was the $100,000 for? I asked how it was vetted. How is this nonprofit selected? What was the work planned? What’s the organization like? What were the deliverable city works to get for $100,000? And not a single person I talked to could tell me,” Soglin said.

In his statement, Soglin again criticized the allocation saying there was no competition or transparent review. He said he insists on documentation, and will address the issue later.

In the capital budget, Soglin wanted to delay the police district office building until 2018 and fire station 14 in southeast Madison until 2019. The capital budget moves the plan to build the fire training center back to 2016, but the council wanted it to be built in 2020.

Four neighborhood centers and a biodigester are also part of the capital budget.