Dane County finance committee voted unanimously Thursday to accept budget amendments primarily addressing racial disparities and a contested machine that would turn cow manure into water.
Dane County’s Personnel and Finance Committee approved amendments to create a standalone Office of Equity and Inclusion and a dedicated criminal justice data analyst. Committee members said the amended budget represents a significant push to address issues of racial disparity.
Dane County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Corrigan, District 26, said the county tried to incorporate several of the recommendations proposed by the workgroups focused on racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
Discussing disparities: County workgroups detail recommendations to lower inequitiesAs Dane County continues to suffer from glaring racial disparities in the rate of arrests and incarceration, three county-commissioned workgroups Read…
The workgroups proposed the data analyst position and a diversion programs meant to prevent more people from entering the system.
Corrigan said the workgroups had an important role in the creation of the 2016 budget.
“The fact that we’ve created this equity office is just huge,” Corrigan said.
Corrigan said the digester machine, which would remove phosphorus from cow manure, passed after the committee was assured that a business plan will be presented. The digester had originally been in contention because of inconsistent projected operating costs.
County Supervisor Sheila Stubbs, District 23, passionately defended her amendment to fund a Genesis program that helps former inmates readjust to the community. Stubbs said Genesis had been unfairly singled out for a Request for Proposal, despite having a good record as a service provider.
An RFP means companies must compete for a government contract.
“It’s not fair, and it’s not going to work for me,” Stubbs said. “I expect to get this fixed, and it’s not hard to do.”
Due to a technical reason, the Genesis program did not originally make it into the budget, Stubbs said.
The amendment will be revisited at the Board of Supervisors meeting Nov. 16 when the final budget will be voted on.