3 officers added to budget, new ambulance rejected by Madison Council

UPDATE (WKOW) — The Madison Common Council rejected funding for another ambulance but voted to add three police officer positions to the operating budget Tuesday night.

According to David Schmiedicke, Finance Director for the City of Madison, $13,000 still needs to be allocated. The 2020 budget meeting will continue on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.


MADISON (WKOW) — Public safety took center stage at Tuesday night’s Madison city budget meeting.

Madison residents packed into the council chambers, many standing along the back in order to voice support or opposition on several amendments featured in the 2020 proposed budget.

Almost 50 firefighters showed up to show their support for the department’s request of a new ambulance and 10 new positions to help staff it. Several of them spoke, including Mahlon Mitchell, the president of the firefighter’s union.

“50 union members are here not asking for more money for ourselves, different working conditions for ourselves, or different hours for ourselves,” he told alders. “What we’re asking is you adequately staff the Madison Fire Department.”

Amendments offered by aldersidentified areas that could be reduced or eliminated in order to get the staffing for the ninth ambulance. One featured elimination of an independent auditor for the police department. Another featured a reduction in funding for that position. A third suggested eliminating other city positions, including a childcare mental health specialist and some Pinney Library staffing.

The auditor would be in charge ofreviewing police procedures.

The suggestion of eliminating the auditor position from the 2020 budget caused a stir among residents who showed up to speak.

“If someone’s pitting the fire department against an auditor, oversight of the police department, they don’t really care about any of us,” said resident Amelia Royko Maurer.

After some discussion, alders voted down all three of those amendments, leaving the future of a new ambulance unclear.

Alder Shiva Bidar called the auditor position a “cornerstone” and said she didn’t support cutting that and other “important” positions in the city.

The common council also discussed police officer staffing. Two amendments would have added six or three new positions, respectively.

The original request from the department was for 10 full-time officers.

One amendment that proposed creating six full-time positions by reducing raises for municipal employees by 0.25% and cutting funding to bus rapid transit studies failed.

A second, which would add three full-time officers by pulling $45,000 from the Planning Division was still under debate at the time this story was written.

“I urge my colleagues to just take a breath, look at the constituents across this city and say, ‘At least we can support our constituents and support our police and do the minimum amount of three,'” said Alder Barbara Harrington-McKinney.

More at WKOW 27 News

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