Scene of homicide

The Madison Finance Committee rejected $400,000 in the proposed 2018 operating budget for hiring additional police officers as the city awaits results of a federal community policing grant. Above, Madison police investigate a fatal shooting of a woman on Madison's North Side in July.

STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL

The Madison Finance Committee rejected Monday the addition of $400,000 to the proposed 2018 operating budget for hiring more police officers while the city awaits word on a federal grant request.

Committee members voted 4-3 against adding money to the $350,000 Mayor Paul Soglin had already set aside in his executive operating budget as a match to a federal grant that could allow up to 15 additional police officers to be brought on board.

Ald. Paul Skidmore, 9th District, attempted to add the $400,000 to next year’s budget to match the $750,000 federal community police grant the city applied for.

“This action is not obligating us to spend the money but allocating it in case it is needed,” Skidmore said.

Some committee members said they would be more comfortable for the full City Council to discuss the funding during deliberations in November as a decision on the grant is expected soon.

Soglin said he included the $350,000 in his executive budget based on a desire to phase in officers over a few years if the grant is awarded.

Alds. Marsha Rummel, Sara Eskrich, Zach Wood and Soglin voted against the additional funds, while Alds. Mike Verveer, Barbara Harrington-McKinney and Skidmore were in favor.

In other action:

  • Committee members upped Madison’s contribution to The Beacon, a recently opened day resource center for the homeless, by adding $40,000 to the $110,000 Soglin had in his executive budget.

The $150,000 amount would move the city closer to the $172,000 the three other funders — Dane County, Catholic Charities and the United Way of Dane County — intend to spend on operations at the center, 615 E. Washington Ave., next year.

Along with the additional money, the city would “urge” the center’s operator, Catholic Charities, to consider overnight storage at the facility.

Jim O’Keefe, the city’s community development director, said Madison was originally offering $135,000 to help run The Beacon next year, but $25,000 meant for overnight storage was taken away as the service isn’t being offered.

  • A motion to eliminate $250,000 from the budget for a public health approach to address causes and prevention of violence failed on a 5-1 vote.

Eskrich, the sponsor of the motion, said she strongly supports tackling violence with a public health approach, but said she didn’t think it was realistic for the $250,000 to be spent in 2018 given two new employees would need to be hired and a comprehensive funding strategy developed.

She called the decision a “reasonable approach to budgeting.”

Soglin said he’s received assurances from Dane County that the hiring of the employees overseeing the work, who will be part of Public Health Madison Dane County, will be expedited.

“This program is going to be operational next year,” Soglin said. “If we’re going to sit here and wait, we’re losing, and we’re losing lives.”

  • In the end, the Finance Committee approved 18 of 22 amendments at its meeting Monday, adding about $391,000 to the $313.9 million operating budget. The budget would increase the tax on an average value Madison house of $269,377 next year by about $66 to $2,485.

Last month, the Finance Committee added $6.5 million worth of projects to Soglin’s proposed 2018 capital budget. It now stands at $332.5 million.

The full City Council will make decisions on the 2018 capital and operating budgets during the week of Nov. 13.

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Logan Wroge has been a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal since 2015.