Funding for the Overture Center was the hot-button issue in Madison’s 2013 city operating budget, but it was not a new story – debate over the amount of funding the center would receive has faced controversy since it was opened in 2004.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin proposed to cut $1 million from the Center’s 2012 funding of $1.85 million. He cited foggy financial records for hesitancy in funding, noting the whereabouts of the center’s subsidy is unknown. According to Soglin, the Center’s executives have seen their salaries double in the last two years. 

By allocating more to the Madison Police Department in order to promote police, fire and safety, Soglin said he focused on resident safety instead.

However, City Council members were adamant on increasing the center’s funding. Fourteen council members under the leadership of President Pro Tempore Chris Schmidt and Council President Shiva Bidar-Sielaff proposed allocating $1.75 million, $900,000 more than Soglin’s initial proposal.

“For me, this is personal, and [I’m] very familiar with what an asset [the Overture Center] is to the downtown [area],” Ald. Mike Verveer, District 8, said.

Less than a week after the council’s proposal, Soglin showed reluctant support by raising his funding by $500,000.

The City Council passed the $267.1 million 2013 operating budget Nov. 15, with a total of $1.75 million allocated to the Overture Center. Soglin did not veto the budget, signing off on the budget the next day.