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County Executive Falk, Mayor Cieslewicz Propose Plan for Moving Ahead on a Unified Public Health Department

May 05, 2003
Sharyn Wisniewski (608 267-8823
County Executive

DATE: May 5, 2003 TO: Mike Verveer, President Madison Common Council Members, Madison Common Council Kevin Kesterson, Chair Dane County Board of Supervisors Members, Dane County Board of Supervisors FROM: Dave Cieslewicz, Mayor, City of Madison Kathleen Falk, Dane County Executive RE: Unification of Madison and Dane County Public Health Departments We are strongly committed to bringing a detailed, practical plan for a unified public health department to the City Council and Board of Supervisors for your consideration and, we hope, your approval. Our schedule is to have this plan for your consideration so that it can be included in the 2004 budgets, with implementation to begin in 2004. To that end, we have directed a staff team to begin working on this plan immediately and to finish its work by late summer. The charge to the team will be to devise a plan for a merged public health department with detailed proposals for the level and delivery of services and the funding of those services. We are directing the team to consider and, where appropriate, recommend a wide range of steps designed to achieve economy and efficiency so that the merged department will offer excellent service without increasing taxpayer costs. Finally, they are to devise a plan that eliminates or minimizes as much as possible loss of employment for the current staff of both departments. The team leaders will be Janet Piraino, the Mayor’s chief of Staff; Dr. Kathryn Vedder, Director of the City’s Department of Public Health, Topf Wells, the County Executive’s Chief of Staff; and Gary Johnson, Director of the County’s Public Health Division. They will ask other staff from the Health Departments, the City Comptroller’s Office, the County’s Department of Administration, the City Attorney, and Corporation Counsel to work with the team. We have also directed the team leaders to work with the respective city and county oversight committees so that they are well informed about the progress of this effort and can contribute to the development of this plan. This team will take full advantage of the good work, studies, principles, and recommendations put forth by the Joint Public Health Advisory Committee and the other committees and staff who have worked on this issue. The team’s first meeting will be in mid-May to give the respective staffs time to review the relevant material and develop new ideas to bring to the table. Some of you who have witnessed the halting progress of the unification effort over the past six years might ask, what is different about this team and its planning effort? The first is its direction: we are united in the clear directions and expectations we are giving to this team. The second is the level of specificity at which the team will work. They are not going to discuss abstract questions of philosophy, equity, or public finance. They are being directed to produce a comprehensive, practical plan for funding and operating a merged health department. We welcome your thoughts on other steps we can take to make the unification successful. Thank you.
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