Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Budget Meetings: Hour 10

Things have cooled down a little bit, and the city council is moving along through some nuts and bolts amendments to the operating budget.

The board passed an amendment to provide more $23,000 dollars in funding to the Madison Affordable Housing Trust, and overwhelmingly voted down an amendment to dissolve the Capital Revolving Fund, which makes grant money available to property owners looking to make facade improvements to certain buildings.

In spite of the mayor's enthusiastic support of the Madison sister city program, he asked the council NOT to overturn his decision to cut half its funding, and they agreed. Also, the council voted down an amendment that would have removed language from the budget warning of a massive funding cut for Madison's public access channel WYOU in the 2010 and 2011 budget years.

Perhaps most perplexingly, the council voted in favor of adding $60,000 to the budget to provide paid sick leave for hourly city employees. That they voted in favor of the funding is in itself not perplexing -- but Alder Brenda Konkel grilled a city human resources manager on the subject as part of the amendment discussions.

Apparently, the city has voted to provide similar funding for the past three or four years, but the human resources department has never actually made the money available to employees. City employees still get no paid sick time, and the money has just been replaced in the general fund.

It seems human resources directors have simply been unsure what specifications to use when administering paid sick leave to hourly employees, and rather than asking alders for guidance, have simply been avoiding the problem for at least three years.

Konkel expressed subdued outrage at this, and Alder Lauren Cnare and others pledged to take legislative action to make paid sick leave a reality for hourly city employees.

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