Preserving priorities | submitted by Joe Parisi

When I first took office in April, the county was facing an $8 million deficit heading into the 2012 budget due to deep cuts from the state. These cuts posed a severe threat to the county’s core services.

Despite these challenges, through innovation, efficiencies, and new partnerships, the county budget I recently signed into law preserves these services you expect and deserve.

The 2012 budget increases funds to our human services safety net more than $4.4 million to a total of more than $238 million. Included in this amount is a new contingency fund to protect the elderly, children, and people with disabilities in the event of further state cuts to county human services.

I pursued new partnerships and efficiencies to ensure our county continued its commitment to our most vulnerable citizens – despite difficult budget challenges.

Through the shared sacrifice and ideas of our county workforce, Dane County employees contributed more than $2 million in savings.

In addition, I developed an innovative new partnership between workers in our parks and highway departments that will help put 11 more snow plow operators on the roads this winter while saving taxpayers over $400,000.

I also worked with Sheriff Mahoney to secure over $1.8 million in efficiencies in our criminal justice system that will protect public safety and keep deputies on patrol in our rural communities.

To aid public safety, a new partnership with Madison Area Technical College in this budget will help train our next generation of firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians while providing over $847,000 to the county’s fiscal challenge.

I ensured my first budget placed a priority on economic development as well. Through my new Office of Jobs and Prosperity, we’ll collaborate with our private- and public-sector partners to retain and create family-supporting jobs in Dane County. And we’ll expand exciting sectors of our economy, such as clean energy jobs and sustainable agriculture.

Because of partnerships with groups like the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District and the Clean Lakes Alliance, we also have new dollars for our work to clean up the lakes.

I’m proud to report that by working together, we navigated this budget challenge and protected your priorities.

Joe Parisi is the Dane County executive.

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