At noon today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi proposed the county’s 2021 budget totaling $615.5 million, much of which continues to support residents amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parisi’s budget will add funds to support homeless shelters and small businesses in the wake of COVID-19, according to the press release. The plan also focuses on initiatives in human services, equity, renewable energy and conservation.

The city reserved $6 million reserved for the Dane County Affordable Housing Fund to ensure “safe respite” for those experiencing homelessness.

“Throughout this pandemic, we have always prioritized the public’s health, safety and wellness, even when difficult,” Parisi said at a live press conference today. “Some of the steps we’ve taken to minimize the illness offered unforeseen advantages that give us reason to explore continuing them even once the pandemic eases.”

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The largest portion of the budget, $239,497,599, is sectioned off to human services, according to the press release.

The Dane County budget dropped almost $12 million this year because of decreased sales tax collections, according to the press release. The smaller tax revenue amplified the challenge of creating a budget, and Parisi responded by using $15 million from the Dane County rainy day fund.

“The budget was deeply challenging in the midst of what has been a difficult year for all of us at every level,” Parisi said in the press release.

The 2021 budget would increase property taxes on the average home by $30.18 because of a levy increase of 3.4%, according to the press release. 

Parisi said the Dane County Board of Supervisors considered the strategy of using existing revenues rather than reserve fund dollars when making changes to his proposal.

“Increases in spending without a way to pay for them will deplete our reserve fund at an inopportune time, potentially jeopardizing our bond rating and ability to manage future deficits we should anticipate as a result from COVID,” Parisi said while announcing the budget.

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At the live press conference, Parisi forecasted a challenging fall and winter seasons that could deal another deep blow to the Dane County economy, recreating the need for a healthy reserve for the deliberation of a 2022 budget.

The Dane County Board of Supervisors will begin budget deliberations the week of November 9.

“We will succeed in our efforts, because everything we have done leading up to this pandemic lay the groundwork for our response to it,” Parisi said. “At the outset of this pandemic, we set forth to work to mitigate the economic harm of COVID-19 … We know when it comes to this pandemic, we have much work ahead of us.”