Madison Mayor Paul Soglin signed off on the 2013 city budget Friday, which included numerous amendments in a package from the City Council that slightly altered his original budget proposal.
After the City Council voted to make various changes to the original 2013 capital and operating budgets Tuesday and Wednesday night, Soglin had an opportunity to veto their changes but decided against it.
Soglin’s spokesperson Katie Crawley said the mayor chose not to veto the budget because if he did, the City Council would have overturned his decision. Soglin received numerous emails from residents saying he should veto the bill, but decided it would not have been a productive choice, she said.
Crawley said while Soglin agreed with a good portion of the City Council’s budget amendments, he disagreed with their decision to continue to subsidize the Overture Center.
She said much of the services the Overture Center provides go to visitors from outside Madison, and Soglin’s goal is to continue to strengthen Madison and its surrounding communities.
The budget invests more money in community centers and provides funding for infrastructure, bike paths and a new fire station on the east side, which will help to keep Madison vital, she said.
Soglin would like to create a public market in Madison, but there is only enough money in the budget to study the idea and design of one, according to Crawley.
“It is frustrating for the mayor and alders because there isn’t money to do the things we want to do,” Crawley said. “It’s a tight fiscal time.”
Crawley said Soglin is trying to keep property taxes low and wants to prevent borrowing money to avoid long-term debt. In order to do that, though, Madison needs more economic development to help with the tax base, she said.
Ald. Lauren Cnare, District 3, said both Soglin’s original budget and the City Council’s amended version of the budget had elements that supported all parts of Madison.
“It’s really important that the mayor recognizes that the government can get stuff done,” Cnare said. “We’re not the federal government. We can get it done and serve a lot of needs – he wanted to be part of that with us.”
Cnare said the council’s amendment package, which has never been done in the past, was an opportunity for City Council members to propose all of their changes as a single package.
She said the package kept the council from being divided about the budget.
“The City Council is starting to work together as a group,” Cnare said. “It is more effective that way.”
The proposed bus fare increases and the proposed cuts in Overture Center’s subsidy were among the most controversial parts of the budget, Cnare said.
She said the introduced package got rid of the fare increase and continued to subsidize the Overture Center. This meant even if council members only supported one of the amendments, they could support the package and still get a lot of what they wanted, she said.
Cnare said along with taking care of the usual expenses, the budget also allocates money to neighborhood centers and makes an effort to tackle the problem of emerald ash borer’s in Wisconsin, a green beetle native to Asia.
“The biggest change [in the budget] is that there are some innovative and important things about starting to promote our city,” Cnare said.