Referendum Climate: Madison Mayor Orders 5% Cut in 2009 City Budget

A possible Fall 2008 Madison School District Referendum may occur amid changes in City spending (and property taxes). Mayor Dave Cieslewicz’s Memo to City Managers includes this [PDF]:

This is the most challenging budget year I have seen in six years and it appears to be among the most challenging in two decades or more. High fuel prices combined with lagging revenues associated with the economic downturn and increases in debt service and other costs will force us to work hard just to maintain current services. Other typical cost increases in areas such as health insurance and wages will create additional pressure on our budget situation.
Based on current estimates, our “cost to continue” budget would result in an unacceptably high increase of about 10% for taxes on the average home and a levy increase of around 15%.

Via Isthmus.

One would hope that a referendum initiative would address a number of simmering issues, including math, curriculum reduction, expanded charter options, a look at the cost and effectiveness of reading recovery, perhaps a reduction in the local curriculum creation department and the elimination of the controversial report card initiative. Or, will we see the now decades old “same service approach” to MMSD spending growth?

4 thoughts on “Referendum Climate: Madison Mayor Orders 5% Cut in 2009 City Budget”

  1. I’d give Dr. Nerad at least 2 years to review all of what Jim deems “simmering issues”. We want him to do it right the first time. I don’t think it’s prudent to cram it all in prior to any upcoming November referendum. Not that these issues aren’t important, but they are more important to some people and not so important to others. Yes, there will need to be some city budget cuts. Yes, there will need to be some hefty MMSD budget cuts if no referendum is passed. Property taxes will be rising as assessments stagnate or drop. That’s old news by now. I’m game to give Dr. Nerad the money he needs for a few years to whip the MMSD back into shape. If that means cutting some fluff at Doyle, so be it. If that means MTI taking some benefit reductions, so be it. But the “simmering issues” won’t be solved by November and, quite frankly, I hope Dr. Nerad finds some more important “simmering issues” of his own as he reviews the successes and failures of the past. It looks like Nuestro Mundo will be expanding slightly, I’m not so sure how “controversial” the new report cards will become, the Math Task Force has a final report finished…so things are perking along. Heck, it only took 5 years to get an Equity Policy in place!

  2. What do you mean by “curriculum reduction?”
    Thanks in advance for your reply.

  3. Oh, I thought maybe you were alluding to the curriculum reduction that occurs as class size increases and resulting class offerings decrease to the point where students find less flexibility to take certain classes due to the narrowed schedule.

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