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Madison Mayor lays out budget, plan for the future

Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 11:46 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Affordable housing, public transit and recovering from the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic topped Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway’s priority list for the upcoming city budget and Capitol Improvement Plan.

“We are only at the beginning of fully understanding how the current economic fallout from COVID-19 will constrain the City’s budget for the next few years,” Rhodes-Conway said in statement Tuesday, adding that Madison must “double-down on finding ways to build the Madison we want, not just the Madison we have always had.”

Rhodes-Conway said the COVID-19 pandemic already constrained some of her choices in planning the budget.

“We cut upwards of 40 million from the departmental proposals in the capital budget and we moved a significant number of projects around,” she explained.

Announcing her plan at The Grove Apartments, the mayor explained she was using the complex as a backdrop because it showed how there are opportunities for building apartments with affordable rents. Her budget doubles last year’s increase in Affordable Housing Development projects and expands how the money can be spent.

The budget also carves out $6.5 million over the life of the Capital Improvement Plan for its Small Business Equity and Recovery program, which is designed to help business owners of color, women, and other underrepresented groups to start or expand their businesses or make investments. The plan is currently under consideration by the Common Council.

Rhodes-Conway said she hopes the investments in the budget will help address some of the racial disparities in Madison.

Another capital investment project sets aside $160 million to help get the first phase of the Bus Rapid Transit plan completed by 2024. Rhodes-Conway hopes to have East-West corridor done at that point. City leaders expect it to reduce ride times by 35 percent and help communities of color navigate public transit. According to the mayor’s office’s figures, those communities have to make twice as many transfers on average as white residents.

The mayor also wants to add $10 million to the budget for energy and sustainability improvements over the next five years. She plans to spend $3.5 million converting all street lights over to LED by 2023 and invest $21.6 million in flood mitigation.

The full highlights of Mayor Rhodes-Conway’s budget is available here.

The full budget is available here.

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