Prioritizing Affordable Housing, Climate Resiliency, and Strong Neighborhoods in My 2023 Executive Capital Budget
Today the Mayor issued her 2023 capital budget and made the following remarks at a press conference in Olin Park.
Today, I am introducing my capital budget, and the infrastructure investments that underlie our city. In a month, I will be introducing my operating budget, which deals largely with services and personnel.These budgets are united by a common vision.
Infrastructure investments are not just about bricks and mortar, they are a reflection of our values. This budget puts our money where our values are, and it assures that Madison will be strong and ready for the many challenges ahead of us for generations to come.
My goal with this budget is to build a beautiful city, a place that people are proud to call home. My goal with this budget is to build an affordable city, so that people who work here can afford to live and raise a family here. My goal with this budget is to build a greener, more resilient city -- ready for the many challenges of a changing climate. My goal with this budget is to build healthy, strong neighborhoods, with libraries, parks, bike trails and family friendly events that embrace the great diversity of our city.
Behind me, we see the iconic gateway to the city, John Nolen Drive. Thousands of people use John Nolen to enter downtown every day, witnessing one of the more dramatic view of Madison, the Capitol and Monona Terrace. In this budget, I am investing $21 million of federal and local funds to rebuild John Nolen Drive, including its aging causeways, bridges and bike paths. Coupled with our Lake Monona Waterfront Design Competition, we are laying the foundation for a new Madison waterfront that serves both as a gateway to the downtown and as an accessible park for residents and visitors alike. We must repair John Nolen to stave off future problems and prepare for the decades ahead. Similarly, we must address other critical issues in our city to build a firm foundation for future generations.
Since I was elected, affordable housing has been a top priority. I am happy to say that we have seen measurable gains in housing supply recently, but we have more work to do. Thus, a key focus of my capital budget is housing. While we use policy to encourage the creation of more housing, the City needs to focus our funding on housing affordability, so those who work in Madison can afford to live in Madison.
With this budget, I am increasing investments for new affordable housing to $60 million over six years. Since I took office, we have more than doubled the amount of money going to affordable housing. This represents a fundamental change in the priorities of the city. We are seeing the results of our affordable housing investments all around this City
- In the Bayview neighborhood, redevelopment is underway on 130 affordable housing units, a beautiful community room, and other amenities.
- On the east side, Movin’ Out and Red Caboose are building a 4-story building to include 32 affordable units and a child care center right in the building, in the Union Corners area where a whole new community is taking shape on a transit line.
- In the Westgate area, we are seeing a transformation of an old shopping center, into a new living community with 300 units of affordable housing.
There are many more successful projects all around the city that we have helped to make happen. In this budget, we double down on that success. But the city alone cannot solve this growing need, we need the help of the private sector and our partners in state government to continue to make progress on this issue.
In addition to new affordable housing, I am also continuing my support for housing by investing $19 million over six years on programs like down payment assistance, housing rehabilitation assistance and property tax relief to seniors.
My budget also reflects the transformative approach we are taking to homeless services. No longer will we be crowding our most vulnerable residents into church basements and hoping for the best, instead we are constructing the state’s first purpose-built shelter with strong support from the County and our partners in the federal government.
Housing affordability is not the only challenge we face moving forward. The climate crisis is no longer on some future horizon line. The climate crisis is here and it is one of our primary responsibilities to make our city and our infrastructure ready for the challenges ahead.
Since the 2018 flood, the City has rapidly advanced major flood mitigation projects on key streets and drainage areas. City engineers are carefully studying every watershed in the city to understand where – and why – flooding happens. They have identified key projects to make our stormwater infrastructure stronger and more resilient. Next year, we’ll be investing in projects like the Mendota Grassman Greenway, the Lower Badger Mill Creek Pond and a number of other stormwater improvements that happen alongside street reconstruction. This budget invests $22.2 million to support flood mitigation efforts, and another $15 million to improve stormwater quality and keep our lakes clean.
In addition to preparing for a changing climate, we need to make sure we are doing our part to combat climate change, embracing solutions that lower our carbon emissions. Forty percent of Madison’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. That is why Madison worked so hard to secure millions from President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg to launch our BRT project, which will take thousands of cars off city streets, ease congestion and get our residents to work and play more rapidly and with fewer climate impacts.
In this budget, we will use an additional $23 million in federal funds to secure a fully electric bus rapid transit fleet. Quiet, zero emission electric buses will be transformative to our Metro Bus system. This budget makes a new $2.5 million investment in electric vehicle charging equipment to power our growing city fleet of electric vehicles. From the nation’s first electric fire truck, to our purchase of electric compactors, to our growing fleet of light duty trucks, the City continues to break ground with its use of electric vehicles. In addition, City Sustainability staff are working hard with the private sector to begin to tackle the other major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions – inefficient buildings. And City transportation staff continue to work with the federal government to envision an Amtrak station for Madison.
This budget contains major infrastructure investments to ensure that as we build our city, we are building it in a greener and more sustainable way to protect people and the planet.
Madison is a city of neighborhoods. And this budget reflects the fact that building and support strong neighborhood is a critical component of our activities. Strong neighborhoods are affordable neighborhoods, diverse neighborhoods, healthy neighborhoods and safe neighborhoods. Both our capital and operating budgets prioritize our neighborhoods. My budget will continue investing in parks, playground improvements, libraries, sidewalks, crosswalks, bikeways and businesses that strengthen our neighborhoods.
I am also strategically prioritizing some investments based on local need and opportunities, and that help advance equity. In the Sandberg area, the budget puts $15 million toward the construction of Madison Public Library’s Imagination Center. In the Brentwood-Northport area, the budget funds a $5 million expansion of the Warner Park Community Center. In the Hammersley-Theresa area, the budget funds improvements to the stormwater system to alleviate issues with basement flooding. In the Darbo-Worthington area, the budget reserves $2.5 million to purchase the Salvation Army site, providing them with needed capital for a purpose-built women’s shelter and providing the opportunity to support new community facilities in the neighborhood.
With these investments, we can build a better, greener, stronger and more resilient Madison.