City News

$2.2 million estimate to restructure city government creates controversy among Common Council members

Image By: Briana Tolksdorf

Madison’s Finance Department has released projected costs for a smaller, full-time, higher-paid City Council in response to a report stating Madison’s local government is largely unaccountable to the citizens they represent.

This report, which was initially commissioned by the common council in Fall 2018, was conducted through feedback from current and former city officials, as well as citizens, regarding the fairness of city government — particularly in relation to the representation of minority and lower-income communities.

In response to these findings, the report recommends a number of fixes that should be made to the local government in order to better represent all the city’s residents, with the most notable of these being a large fiscal shift in the City Council.

In the past, Madison’s Common Council has consisted of 20 part-time members who served two-year terms and were paid approximately $14,000 annually. 

In contrast, the report advises the city council to be reduced to 10 full-time members who will serve four-year terms and be paid a $67,950 salary.

The changes detailed in the report would require approximately $3.03 million annually — a $2.2 million increase from its current budget — to implement, according to the city’s department of finance.

The sum has sparked some criticism from city officials. 

Ald. Rebecca Kremble, District 18, called into question the current projections regarding the financial cost of the government restructuring. She stated the fiscal note presented is premature and includes inaccurate estimates that potentially downplay the cost of these changes.

“That seems way off to me and to what the committee discussed and to our recommendation,” Kremble said in response to cost estimates during the Common Council Meeting on Tuesday. “It really does not reflect the recommendation that is in the report.” 

While some members of the council balked at the price estimates proposed by Madison’s Finance Department, Ald. Harrington-Mckinney, District 1, saw the estimate as valuable information in making future budgetary decisions.

“To have an estimate of what that budget implication is gives us a framework by which to move forward on,” Harrington-Mckinney stated. “So I appreciate that that was in there, whether it was accurate or not.” 

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