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Dane County Executive Parisi Announces Signing of 2020 Budget: “New Decade, Continued Commitment to Our People and Places”

November 15, 2019
Ariana Vruwink, (608) 267-8823
County Executive

Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi joined mental health advocates, community and neighborhood center staff, and other community leaders at the headquarters of Operation Fresh Start to announce the signing of the 2020 Dane County budget. The $663.3 million dollar spending plan builds on successful county initiatives while exploring new opportunities to make a substantive difference for individuals and families in the Dane County community.

“The 2020 Dane County budget reflects the priorities of our residents—preserving our natural environment for the enjoyment of future generations, bolstering mental health and addiction recovery services throughout the community, and making key investments in our human services and public safety,” said County Executive Parisi. “By signing the 2020 budget, we welcome a year of new and continued investments in our outdoor spaces and the people who call Dane County home.”

County Executive Parisi was joined at today’s announcement by Executive Director of Operation Fresh Start Greg Markle. Parisi’s 2020 budget invests $52,000 to create a new partnership to help high school graduates who do not have a driver’s license complete the process. A driver’s license plays a key role in providing the opportunity Dane County’s younger residents need to avoid limitations in employment and economic standing, but it comes at a price many families struggle to afford. By partnering with Operation Fresh Start, a greater number of young adults will learn how to drive—opening the doors of opportunity to more Dane County residents.

This is an extension of the driver’s license program County Executive Parisi started with the Madison Metropolitan School District in the summer of 2015, which helped 100 young people each year earn their driver’s license without their families having to worry about how to afford the more than $400 price tag of the course. Parisi’s 2020 budget grows the program to 120 spots to help even more Madison high school students get drivers education. A total of 10 Dane County school districts currently participate in the program—including Deerfield, DeForest, Madison, Marshall, McFarland, Middleton/Cross Plains, Stoughton, Verona, Waunakee, and Wisconsin Heights.

Other highlights in Dane County’s 2020 budget include:

Human Services

The sum for all of Dane County’s human services budget initiatives total $231.9 million for 2020—the most significant portion of the county budget.

County Executive Parisi is expanding the incredibly effective Dane County Joining Forces for Families in the 2020 budget to two new areas. In total, $285,000 is being added to JFF’s budget in 2020.

The 2020 budget creates the new Division of Housing Access and Affordability within Dane County Human Services. It also adds $3 million to the Dane County Affordable Housing Fund next year.

Parisi is including $500,000 to create a grant program for community centers to launch new mental and behavioral health work for kids and families. An additional $30,000 will be used for community centers to offer training on trauma informed care to their volunteers and staff.

A brand new $95,200 program for neighborhood and community centers called Dane County “Get Outside!” will begin next year. The new collaborative will focus on connecting kids between the ages 7 to 14 with the vast array of natural resources and parks that contribute so much to Dane County residents’ quality of life.

Mental Health

Each year, more than $63.5 million in Dane County funds go to support community based mental health treatment and services—a figure that has more than doubled over the past decade.

A total of $1,865,000 will be added to the 2020 budget to further address mental health and addiction recovery in our community. $1.5 million of these funds will go to create the “C.J. Tubbs Fund for Hope, Healing, and Recovery—a new county grant program designed to enhance community based mental health and addiction services.

Dane County Executive Parisi’s 2020 budget includes $80,000 to expand the “recovery coach” model into Drug Court deferred prosecution programs, and community organizations like the Outreach LGBT Community Center and those who work directly with African American, Latino, and Hmong populations. This latest investment brings the county’s total financial support of “recovery coach” efforts to $345,191.

Building Bridges School Based Mental Health Teams focus on mental health efforts with young people and families with school-aged children. It has grown to be an over $1 million a year effort. The 2020 budget adds the $40,000 needed for Building Bridges to be offered year-round in the Monona Grove School District—the latest to join the program.

Climate Change

County Executive Parisi’s budget invests $5 million to create a brand new sediment removal crew and purchases the equipment needed for the county to do its own hydraulic dredging. This ensures for years to come Dane County has the equipment and staff expertise in house to manage work demands created by the new realities that pose unique challenges to a quickly growing area with diverse water resources.

Like all areas, Dane County is susceptible to future flooding resulting from climate change induced extreme weather. Given that, County Executive Parisi’s budget creates the Dane County Flood Risk Reduction Fund to ensure the county can vie for public ownership of lands facing a similar situation to what we saw with the Acker Farm next to Pheasant Branch this summer. This fund will start off with $6 million.

County Executive Parisi’s 2020 budget builds upon the county’s “green” fleet and adds infrastructure at county facilities to promote electric vehicle usage. He is including $350,000 to purchase electric vehicle charging stations at 16 county sites.


The dollars Dane County is spending on clean lakes, parks for people to play, and trails to recreate total $33.6 million in 2020—a true commitment to a quality of life that keeps communities vibrant and growing.

The first phase of Suck the Muck is complete—extracting 75,000 pounds of phosphorus from Dorn Creek. Next year’s work will focus on Six Mile Creek between Waunakee and Westport. The 2020 budget has $2.5 million for the next chapters of “Suck the Muck.”

$4 million is being included for the Dane County Conservation Fund to continue the pursuit of preserving land with clear quality of life, conservation, and recreational benefits. This need is even more apparent by the county’s continually increasing and competing land use pressures.

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