Madison 2021 budget includes furlough days, layoffs

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway is proposing a small number of furlough days and layoffs in her 2021 budget proposal.

"Today we continue to face levels of uncertainly that impact the health and well being of our residents and increase demands for services that government provides," Rhodes-Conway said in a Tuesday morning news conference.

The mayor said the city faced a $25 million deficit heading into the 2021 budget.

About $10 million of the shortfall is caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and $15 million was a structural gap between the costs to continue current servces and what the state will allow the city to raise.

The proposed budget includes furloughs for the city's general municipal employees, where each employee will take between two and four days off in 2021. Lower-paid employees will take fewer days, higher-paid employees will take more, the mayor said.

There also will be layoffs in the parking utility where revenue is down 80 percent.

The layoffs are in the range of six or seven full-time equivalents, however, that will affect a larger number of people because most parking cashiers are not full time.

Rhodes-Conway said $8 million of city's rainy day fund is earmarked to cover temporary revenue losses and one-time expenses.

Across the board, agency budgets will see $3.3 million in cuts.

With the financial constraints the city is facing, Rhodes-Conway has asked the police to cut $1 million from their budget – a percentage cut

on par with many other departments, she said.

Rhodes-Conway called on the police and fire unions to renegotiate provisions agreed to in 2019 that she says are no longer realistic.

The city has had early conversations with the firefighters' union, but none with police, she said.

Rhodes-Conway says the budget envisions new ways of pursuing public safety that produce more equitable outcomes. including:

  • Experimenting with a new type of Crisis Intervention Team to support residents with behavioral health emergencies.
  • Transferring the $600,000 Crossing Guard program to Traffic Engineering.
  • Removing four School Resource Officer positions from the budget, in line with the joint decision by the Madison Metropolitan School District’s and the City to cancel SRO contracts.

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