Amid challenges caused by COVID-19, Dane County executive Joe Parisi signed the 2021 county budget on Nov. 13, that includes a slight tax increase.

The Dane County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved both a $615.6 million operating budget and an $80.8 million capital budget at its meeting on Nov. 9. The final budget includes a levy increase of 3.4%, which would increase taxes on the average county home by around $30.18, according to a county news release.

Parisi said the budget “works to buffer the services Dane County provides and address the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on our community.” Last month, he said county sales tax collections were on track to end the year down around $12 million, though there were no across-the-board wage reductions or furloughs in the budget.

“Our shared sense of community and willingness to do whatever it takes to help one another is prevailing as we navigate this unrivaled time,” he said in the news release.

District 33 supervisor AnnDeGarmo, whose district includes Fitchburg, pointed out as highlights the investment in more than $10 million in affordable housing, $300,000 for a study to determine needs for a Mental Health Triage Center, and creation of mental health crisis responder pilot program to provide alternatives to law enforcement response. He also lauded a “long overdue investment” in the city’s Black community to help fund a Center for Black Excellence in South Madison.

“Budgets are a reflection of our community's values, and it makes me proud to know that even in tough times, this budget lives up to ours,” DeGarmo wrote in an email to the Star. “This was a really tough budget year, but smart financial planning put us in a position to be able to continue investing in the assets that make Dane County a wonderful place to live. It also made it possible for us to make progress in areas where we need to do better -- like in affordable housing.”

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