After almost seven hours of deliberation with the public, the mayor and the city’s alderpersons, the council was able to successfully truck through a load of budget changes, adding a net total of $67,030. Members passed the 2005 operating budget with a 14-5 vote and one abstention.
The council, along with other additions from the Board of Estimates, added a quarter million dollars of spending to Cieslewicz’s budget. The total figure brings the 2005 operating budget to $192,725,458 which increased spending 3.7 percent, higher than the mayor’s proposed 3.6 percent increase.
The council defeated an amendment to the operating budget that would have reduced funding for the Safe Communities Coalition from $20,000 to their current allowance of $9,410.
But alderpersons argued the increase during a tight budget is imperative to the survival of city services.
“Pedestrian safety is one of the most paramount issues in my district, and I feel it has to be in other aldermanic districts too,” Ald. Judy Olson, District 6, said.
Olson urged the council to defeat the amendment with the help of Ald. Austin King, District 4.
“There are a lot of people, including almost all of my constituents, that walk to their job, to their class and to the liquor store,” King added. “We ought to be able to do things to assist them.”
King said it should not be dangerous to walk and an additional $10,000 to this program would help save lives.
Ald. Zach Brandon, District 7, along with Ald. Cindy Thomas, District 20, argued the 2005 slim budget “is not the time to double the amount” of money going into services.
The council also debated the cuts to the Madison Metro Bus line in an effort to save approximately $152,000. Brandon argued speeding up the bus routes would be more efficient due to less traffic on the weekends.
Ald. Robbie Webber, District 5, argued the council is mandated by law to hold a public hearing as stated by the Transit Parking Commission rules. She added the council also does not control bus schedules.
The creation for a Department of Civil Rights also passed, but further debate and planning remain on the project.
The council defeated an amendment allowing advertisements on new recycling bins due out in the next few years. It was thought the advertisements would bring in approximately $62,000 in revenue.
After more jokes than real debate, the mayor said he would give up the matter from his original proposal.
Hours later, the council defeated an amendment to cut funding for the creation of a Downtown Planning Council, similar to the North Side and the East Isthmus planning councils, requiring $20,000 funding that was unanimously passed by the Board of Estimates earlier, according to Ald. Mike Verveer, District 8.
“Those fortunate enough to have one of the three current planning councils in their district realize how important they are at community building,” Verveer said to his fellow alderpersons.