The Dane County Board is currently at work on the Dane County budget for 2017. The County Board of Supervisors’ committees are deliberating the budget as proposed by the County Executive and are considering potential amendments. The full Board will consider the results at 7 PM on November 14th.

At the two Budget Hearings held in September, the leaders of every department had an opportunity to present their specific budget requests and to highlight relevant issues within their departments. With an expectation that Dane County services will be of the highest standards possible within budgetary and Wisconsin state statue limitations, these budget hearings are a valuable opportunity for the Board and the public to hear about successes and challenges of providing the services expected.

To ensure equity in Dane County government and to continue to reduce racial disparities, the County Board asked every Department Head to: “Discuss your efforts in the past year to address inequities, both internally and as part of your department’s work for Dane County. Indicate any specific approaches or initiatives in your 2017 budget request to promote an equitable and just county.

To ensure Dane County continues to lead in the implementation of sustainability efforts, every department head was also asked, “Which of your 2017 budget requests (capital or operational) relate to achieving/advancing the goals, objectives, and strategies of the Dane County Government Sustainable Operations Plan?”

Through these inquiries and their responses, the leaders of Dane County Government shared their experiences as they strive to improve the quality of lives of all Dane County residents and for future generations.

At a minimum, most, if not all, departments have utilized employee training to increase knowledge and awareness of the racial disparities in Dane County and how we can work together to ensure equity. Also frequently mentioned was a focus on hiring practices and how they can be changed to broaden the number of qualified applicants and ensure everyone who does has a fair chance to be hired. The results are a workforce that is increasingly more representative of Dane County demographics.

Many sustainability initiatives included reducing the amount of paper that is used. For example, the Clerk of Courts office has established an electronic filing system that results in, once originally submitted documents are scanned, an entirely electronic legal record. That is, judges are able to see the documents on a monitor instead of multiple copies having to be made. Also, the amount of space required to store files has been greatly reduced. Less paper and other resources being used is positive financially and for our environment.

So many good examples of improving equity and sustainability initiatives were shared by Dane County leaders, while they are also wisely using taxpayer dollars, that I am confident Dane County will continue to be a great place to live for everyone.

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