Property Taxes, Budget Cuts in Madison

By: Justin Williams
By: Justin Williams

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz is demanding that all departments cut their budgets.

The alternative is a big increase in property taxes. Monday the mayor says he hopes his cuts only prepare the city for the worst, while he continues to hope for the best.

"Goodbye..." As his wife, Janet, prepares to leave their new apartment, Leo Barnes continues settling in. The couple purchased this home 47 years ago for $23,000 but just a couple weeks ago they sold, citing health concerns and the ever growing cost of home ownership.

"History tells us that there's gonna be a tax increase next year, and the next year, and the next year..." Leo says.

"People understand that basic services do cost something, what they want is a more fair tax system," explains Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, who has asked city department heads to make a 3% cut to their respective budgets. He explains the move will leave the city better prepared for a worst case scenario which would involve the passage of a Republican backed tax freeze proposal, and could require a subsequent 7.25 % property tax hike for Madison homeowners.
Mayor Dave says he won't let this happen. "The difference between that and the levy limit, which would be imposed by the state legislature, would mean that we'd have to make really draconian cuts."

The mayor adds his hope Governor Doyle will veto the measure from the state budget.
Meanwhile, Leo says as a former Madison West High School guidance counselor he continues to support property taxes as a necessary component to quality education.
"If you wanna live in Madison and live the way you do...then you gotta pay for it."

Mayor Dave says ten years ago, 54% of the city's budget came from property taxes, today he says this figure has grown to 70%.

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