The Madison City Council met Tuesday night to vote on proposed amendments to the hotly debated 2007 budget. Although four amendments passed and two failed, the council continuously struggled to come to a consensus.
"I just don't understand why some of the topics are so controversial time and time again," Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said.
Due in part to the large public turnout, the council was unable to discuss each of the amendments proposed, but will meet again Wednesday night to complete the voting process.
Although failing to pass in an 11-9 vote, the amendment eliminating funding for bus shelters around the Capitol drew a tangible line between supporters and opponents. Supporters, such as Ald. Zach Brandon, District 7, said the money used to pay for the $70,000 bus shelters could be better spent in other aspects of the budget. But opponents, such as Ald. Robbie Webber, District 5, argued the city has the responsibility to provide renovated bus shelters for the public.
"I think there should be shelters at every stop," Webber said. "Now we can debate how much the shelters should cost, but the decision has [already] been made that we were going to get fancy shelters … and if that's the decision that was made, we should stick with it."
Another topic that garnered extensive debate was the elimination of general obligation debt funding for railroad crossings, which failed in a 13-5 vote. The amendment allows for the city expenditure of money in order to improve the safety of different railroad intersections.
Webber said one of the main reasons the amendment found so much opposition was because current safety precautions bothered residents and lowered the quality of life. Currently, she added, trains at certain intersections in Madison are obligated to whistle passing through, and the whistling disturbs many residents around the railroad.
Although the railroad crossing amendment saw much of the night's debate, other amendments were also in the spotlight.
The council discussed an amendment calling for the elimination of $1.2 million of funding for the James Madison Park Project, which eventually passed in an 11-8 vote.
Madison resident Rosemary Lee, said the elimination of the funding will bring about drastic changes for the area, including the sale of some of the park's land. Since the amendment passed, the money from the sale of the park's land will go towards the city's operating budget instead of toward extensive renovations.
"The amendment is an absolute atrocity," Lee said. "The fact that the money will be going towards the city's operating budget is ridiculous."
Amendments transferring funding for the design and engineering services for a new fire station from 2008 to 2007, and the addition of one ambulance to the Madison ambulance fleet, to allow for the refurbishment of one older ambulance that, passed without debate.
Two other amendments passed without debate, including one transferring funding allowing for the design and engineering services needed for a new fire station in 2007 instead of 2008. The other amendment provided for the addition of one ambulance to the Madison ambulance fleet, allowing an older ambulance to be refurbished.
The council will continue debate on the budget today at 7 p.m.