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New York, December 20, 2023 -- Moody's Investors Service has assigned Aaa ratings
to the City of Madison, WI's General Obligation Corporate Purpose Bonds, Series 2024-
A with an expected par amount of $28.6 million. Moody's maintains the city's Aaa issuer
rating and Aaa rating on the outstanding general obligation unlimited tax (GOULT)
bonds. Following the sale, the city will have about $642 million in GOULT debt
outstanding. The outlook is stable.
The Aaa rating reflects the strong, diverse economy with significant institutional
presence and above-average resident income. The financial position is consistently
solid. These positive attributes offset the limited revenue raising flexibility and slightly
elevated long-term leverage.
The Aaa GOULT rating is equivalent to the Aaa issuer rating because of the city's full
faith and credit pledge and authorization to levy a dedicated property tax that is
unlimited as to rate or amount.
The stable outlook reflects the expectation that the credit quality will remain strong,
supported by continued economic growth, long-standing government and higher
education presences within the city and continued financial stability.
FACTORS THAT COULD LEAD TO AN UPGRADE OF THE RATING
FACTORS THAT COULD LEAD TO A DOWNGRADE OF THE RATING
- Material narrowing of reserves or liquidity
- Notable growth in long-term leverage
The upcoming sale and outstanding GOULT debt is backed by the city's full faith and
credit pledge and the authority to levy a dedicated property tax unlimited as to rate and
USE OF PROCEEDS
Proceeds from the Series 2024-A bonds will finance the construction of a public parking
Madison is the state capital of Wisconsin (Aa1 stable) and is home to the flagship
campus of the University of Wisconsin. It is the state's second largest city with an
estimated population of just under 266,000.
The principal methodology used in this rating was US Cities and Counties Methodology
published in November 2022 and available at
For further specification of Moody's key rating assumptions and sensitivity analysis, see
the sections Methodology Assumptions and Sensitivity to Assumptions in the disclosure
form. Moody's Rating Symbols and Definitions can be found
For ratings issued on a program, series, category/class of debt or security this
announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a
subsequently issued bond or note of the same series, category/class of debt, security or
pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings
in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider,
this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the credit rating
action on the support provider and in relation to each particular credit rating action for
securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For
provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in
relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may
be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the
transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the
definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information
please see the issuer/deal page for the respective issuer on https://ratings.moodys.com.
Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if
applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.
Please see https://ratings.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating
analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.
Please see the issuer/deal page on https://ratings.moodys.com for additional regulatory
disclosures for each credit rating.
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653
I want to thank the Common Council for their work to pass a budget that continues to invest in our critical community services and infrastructure. The City’s budget process is never easy, and there are always more community needs and more good ideas than funding can support. This is made more difficult by a State legislature that provides minimal direct support and severely restricts Madison’s access to revenue sources available elsewhere. The result is that, every year, the costs to deliver City services - like libraries, emergency response, transit, snow plowing, and more - increase faster than our revenues do to pay for those services. While we have mastered the art of doing more with less, it is increasingly challenging to deliver the high quality services that Madisonians are accustomed to in a rapidly growing city.
Despite these funding challenges, there are a few bright spots that I am pleased we were able to advance in this budget. I appreciate the Council’s support for our key priorities around violence prevention, safety, housing, and sustainability. I am particularly excited about the following:
Today, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway released her proposed 2024 Executive Operating Budget at the Madison Central Library. The City of Madison’s operating budget funds the numerous services, programs, and skilled staff that sustain high-quality City services and keep Madison a strong and vibrant community. The operating budget released today complements the 2024 Executive Capital Budget, released in September, which funds City infrastructure, buildings, and other capital investments.
The 2024 operating budget strives to maintain a high level of service for residents in a fast-growing city while facing the reality that Madison does not receive its fair share of state funding, and is unable to utilize revenue streams that are commonly available to cities in other states because of state restrictions. If annual state aid had simply kept pace with inflation from 2000 levels, Madison’s share would be $9 million higher than it is today. Instead, Madison recently received the lowest increase in state aid per capita of all major cities.
“Madison is the fastest growing city in Wisconsin, and that is in large part due to the high quality of life created by local investments,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway. “Our challenge now, as it has been for many years, is to find ways to maintain the City services our residents expect while facing extraordinary fiscal constraints imposed by a state legislature determined to undermine a City that is a key contributor to our state’s economic success.”
Madison has delivered quality services to its residents for many years, boasting exceptional parks, libraries, transit, water systems, snow plowing, and more. It has done so with fewer revenue sources than cities in almost any other state in the country, forcing a disproportionate reliance on local property taxes. Unlike most major cities throughout the country, Madison is not permitted to have a local sales or income tax, to fund essential services like transit via regional authorities, or to institute progressive fee structures.
Additionally, the State Legislature’s restrictions on property taxes make it virtually impossible for City revenues to keep up with the cost to provide services. Since at least 2011, Madison has had an annual gap between the cost to serve residents and the funding available to do so – called a structural deficit. As Madison has grown, so has that gap. And while the City has been able to find efficiencies, it has meant that City services have been limited in their ability to scale in kind. Today, there are 10% fewer city employees per 1,000 residents than there were in 2011.
This is why the City has been forced to take the unusual step of implementing a 1% across-the-board reduction to agency budgets, a measure which will save $3 million.
Compounding the issue, the 2024 budget represents the last year of federal and local COVID relief funds to support City programs, with nearly $17 million of these and other one-time funds allocated to balance the budget next year. As a result, the forecast beyond 2024 is bleak. Maintaining current service levels to residents (e.g., libraries, snow plowing, parks, etc.) is expected cost $75 million more than our maximum allowable revenues by 2029.
“If we are to keep Madison a place we all want to live, work and play, we have to keep investing in the staffing and infrastructure that supports our vibrant economy and diverse community. We have to have resources to tackle the challenges that are holding back our economy, like lack of housing and childcare. But the Republican-led State Legislature has told us loud and clear that we have no option but to raise property taxes to do so. It’s clear there will be little “sharing” of income and sales taxes sent to the state’s coffers by Madison’s hard working families. Because of their mean-spirited policies, we will face significant challenges in future budgets without fundamental changes,” the Mayor said.
Despite the restrictions from the state, the Mayor’s proposed budget makes modest investments to improve city services. Changes in the 2024 Executive Operating Budget include:
· Additional funding for free and fair elections in 2024, including a presidential election.
· A new civilian Emergency Medical Services (EMS) coordinator in the Fire Department to support our top-notch paramedic and emergency services programs.
· A contract with a 3rd party transport system to more efficiently take residents to Wisconsin’s secure mental health treatment facility in Winnebago.
· A City-wide public information officer to help engage and respond to residents about City services, a top priority of the City’s Neighborhood Resource Teams.
· A combined park ranger and parking enforcement officer position to ensure overnight enforcement.
· New positions to support an expanded electric transit vehicle fleet.
· A modest pay increase to general municipal employees to provide parity with unionized employees, keep up with inflation, and secure a quality workforce.
· Increased City support for community programs and services that address basic needs such as housing stability, early childhood care and positive youth development, employment training and career development, successful aging, crisis intervention and prevention, and access to neighborhood-focused resources. This budget provides a 5 percent cost-of-living adjustment over previous contract cycles to help these organizations recruit and retain key staff and respond to the effects of higher inflation.
The Mayor’s Executive Budget will be introduced at Common Council October 3. Staff will present briefings to the Finance Committee on October 9 and 10, and the Finance Committee will consider amendments at the meeting planned on October 23. Final Common Council action is scheduled for November 14-16. The full 2024 Executive Operating Budget can be viewed at https://www.cityofmadison.com/finance/budget/2024-budget/2024-operating-budget.
Today, Mayor Rhodes-Conway released her 2024 Executive Capital Budget and 6-Year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which detail her funding proposals for buildings, infrastructure and other capital investments in Madison. The Capital Budget is half of the City’s budget. In October, the Mayor will introduce her 2024 Executive Operating Budget, which focuses on services, staffing and programs.
“One of local government’s most fundamental responsibilities is to provide the infrastructure that meets our basic needs, supports our local economy and allows us to go about our daily lives safely and efficiently,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway. “Our city is growing rapidly, and our infrastructure needs are growing as well. My Capital Budget invests in the basics needed to support safe communities and strong neighborhoods, while looking to the future with investments in affordable housing and climate action.”
The Mayor announced her budget at the Urban League of Greater Madison’s new Black Business Hub alongside community leaders who are helping to catalyze the South Madison renaissance. The Executive Capital Budget released today includes key investments in affordable housing, land acquisition, public facilities and transit that help make the vision laid out in the South Madison Plan a reality. The budget plans $24 million in investments in South Madison for new housing and an expanded Public Health Clinic.
INVESTING IN HOUSING AND NEIGHBORHOODS
Neighborhoods across the city will see continued investments in our parks, libraries, bike trails and more. We also continue to invest heavily in affordable housing as Madison continues to grow.
INVESTING IN INFRASTRUCTURE FOR A GROWING CITY
Basic infrastructure like clean water, sewers, accessible streets, bike paths and bridges form the foundational backbone of every city. We build, maintain, expand and improve them to ensure everybody has access to basic services. This budget provides:
CREATING A MORE SUSTAINABLE CITY
Madison is a national leader in executing bold plans to reduce our emissions and invest in a more equitable future, and this budget continues moving us down that path. We are leveraging federal dollars for the clean energy transition that will help us move faster and reduce costs.
As always, the budget seeks to leverage every state and federal dollar available to address increased inflationary costs and to reduce the burden on local property tax payers. But the City is held back by a Republican legislature that does not believe in returning to Madison a fair portion of what the city’s residents provide to the state in sales and income taxes.
“After decades of declining state aid, we had hoped that the historic state budget surplus would result in increased support for the state’s fastest growing city. Unfortunately, the Republican-controlled State Legislature found many ways to prevent our residents from receiving a fair share of state aid. Madison received an insignificant increase, less than 1% of our total budget. Fortunately, continuing investment by the federal government will help the City meet its growing capital needs, but cannot fill the hole left by the lack of shared revenue,” said Mayor Satya.
This Capital Budget reflects careful decision-making to balance the needs of the community with sound fiscal management.
“This budget makes careful investments to maintain and improve our critical infrastructure, help address the challenges we are facing as a community and enhance key community institutions. With these investments, we are continuing to build a better, greener and more resilient Madison,” said the Mayor.
The Mayor’s Executive Budget will be discussed at City Finance Committee meetings beginning September 11, with Common Council action beginning November 14, allowing multiple opportunities for resident input.
(MADISON, Wis.)—The reconstruction of Atwood Avenue from S. Fair Oaks Avenue to Cottage Grove Road is officially underway. Atwood Avenue will be reconstructed to fix aging infrastructure and enhance pedestrian and bicycle safety.
The public is also invited to attend an upcoming in-person public information meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Feb. 27, 2023, at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, 3330 Atwood Ave., Madison, Wis. The open house format meeting will provide the public an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the project. No formal presentation will be given.
Bike and Pedestrian Changes
The major safety improvements include separated vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities. There will be shorter pedestrian crossing movement access Atwood Avenue and improved connections for all users to Olbrich Park and Olbrich Gardens. Throughout the project there will be 5-foot sidewalk, 7-foot wide sidewalk, 10-foot wide paths, and 15-foot wide paths to assist users to their destination on the east side of Madison.
“One of the most important features of this project includes major updates to safety for pedestrians and cyclists in this area. We look forward to working with the community, and serving the community better in these areas on Atwood in this particular area,” City of Madison Project Manager Andrew Zwieg said. “We understand this project can be disruptive, but we are committed to working through the construction toward improving the usability and safety in this area for all.”
The project also includes sanitary sewer and storm sewer improvements as well as new street lighting, a traffic signal at Walter Street, new pavement markings and signs.
The project is scheduled to be complete by fall 2023.
For more information about the project, closure updates and more, please visit the project page on the City of Madison website: https://www.cityofmadison.com/engineering/projects/atwood-avenue.
The City’s 2023 budget passed last night in the Common Council after two nights of debate and discussion. The Mayor issued the following statement.
I am pleased that the Common Council passed a series of amendments that improve my budget, including a Parks volunteer coordinator who can put the power of the people to work for our beautiful City parks, a Sustainability Coordinator to help us advance climate action more rapidly, and additional funding to support Madison CARES, a mobile response unit for mental health crises.
In the capital budget, we made investments in affordable housing; infrastructure projects geared toward helping our City take action on climate change; and to build healthier neighborhoods.
In the operating budget, we invested in our youth, in public safety and violence prevention, and continue to build a strong, resilient and heathy Madison. I am very glad that the Common Council took another look at the plans for the Madison Public Market and gave it some thoughtful consideration. The Council expressed strong support for the Market Ready participants and I agree that the equity and empowerment aspects of the project are its most exciting features. I look forward to the Public Market becoming a reality.
This budget puts our money where our values are, building a better Madison that will be strong and resilient for years to come. I thank the Common Council for unanimously adopting the budget.
Today, Mayor Rhodes-Conway released her 2023 Executive Capital Budget PDF and 6-Year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which detail her funding proposals for buildings, infrastructure and other capital investments in Madison. The Capital Budget is one major piece of the City’s budget. In a month, she will introduce her 2023 Executive Operating Budget, which focuses on services, staffing and programs. (See included links for the full capital budget, summary and project map.)
“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, building a better Madison that will be strong, resilient and ready for the many challenges ahead of us,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway.
In this year’s capital budget, the Mayor increases City investments in affordable housing; funds infrastructure projects geared toward helping our City take action on climate change and build climate resiliency; and makes important investments across the City to build strong neighborhoods.
BUILDING AFFORDABLE HOUSING
With the population growth Madison continues to see, it will take a strong, sustained investment to meet the housing needs of our community.
BUILDING A RESILIENT CITY
It is becoming increasingly clear that dramatic climate action is needed to ameliorate the worst impacts of the climate crisis. It may not be glamorous, but the repair and reconstruction of streets, bridges, water wells, sewers and stormwater systems is the backbone of creating a strong and resilient city.
BUILDING STRONG NEIGHBORHOODS
This budget reflects the fact that building and supporting strong neighborhoods is a critical component of City activities. It continues investing in parks, playground improvements, libraries, sidewalks, crosswalks, bikeways and small businesses that strengthen our neighborhoods. In addition, the Mayor is strategically prioritizing some investments based on local need and opportunities, and that help advance equity.
The budget also continues to invest in programs for affordable and equitable business access across our City, with $4.5 million in continued support for the Small Business and Equitable Recovery program, building improvement grants, and the Commercial Building Ownership program.
At every turn, the City seeks to leverage local dollars with state and federal funds. Madison is fortunate to have the strong support of the Biden and Evers administrations, with direct support in the federal budget, other major spending bills, and American Rescue Plan Act allocations.
“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,” said the Mayor.
The Mayor’s Executive Budget will be introduced at Common Council tonight and will be discussed at City Finance Committee meetings planned for September, with final Common Council action in November, allowing multiple opportunities for resident input.
Tonight the Madison Common Council approved the 2022 Capital and Operating Budgets after three evenings of deliberations. The Council adopted a $354,244,062 Capital Budget and a $360,321,028 Operating Budget.
“This was another difficult budget season given revenue losses caused by COVID-19 and a structural budget deficit all local governments in Wisconsin face due to severe limitations on our ability to raise revenue imposed by the State Legislature,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway, “I want to extend my sincere gratitude to the Biden administration and Congress for passing the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). With the support of ARPA funding, we were able to adopt a fiscally responsible balanced budget that meets the needs of our community and keeps tax increases low.”
The Mayor is pleased that Council has continued to show strong support for City priorities, including:
“Taxpayers will be pleased to know that we accomplished all this while holding the property tax increase to the lowest level in many years. The 15-year average levy increase for City government has been 4.1 percent. This year, it will be 1.2 percent, the lowest in twenty years.” said the Mayor.
The Community Development Authority of the City of Madison (CDA) has selected a redevelopment partner to help lead a public-private process to revitalize and/or redevelop a major site within its public housing portfolio in an area of the near west side of the City known as “the Triangle.”
Comprised of five separate sites and roughly 340 units, the CDA wishes to begin detailed planning for a phased, long-term approach that will replace or substantially upgrade every unit at the Triangle within the next 5-10 years. To this end, the CDA sought statements of qualifications during summer 2021 from leading regional development teams to provide master planning services, assist City staff in leading a robust public and resident engagement process, and develop a strategy for the completion of site wide redevelopment objectives.
After a thorough review of team submissions by City/CDA staff, the CDA Board of Commissioners ultimately selected Madison-based New Year Investments (NYI) at its October 14 meeting as its preferred Triangle redevelopment partner in the management and implementation of what is expected to be complex, multiphase redevelopment process. NYI is a women-owned real estate development and brokerage firm drawing on more than thirty years of combined experience shared between its two principals, Anne Neujahr Morrison and Sarah Neujahr. NYI’s focus is on the creation of thoughtfully designed, mixed-use urban-infill properties in Madison. Both principals of NYI are also shareholders of Urban Land Interests, a family-owned asset management company founded in 1974.
New Year Investments is currently working on the redevelopment of the former Ella’s Deli restaurant site located on the East Washington Corridor, with 100% of units in the Ella Apartments affordable to low and moderate-income households. The Ella Apartments were financed with a combination of Tax Exempt Bonds, Federal Low Income and State Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and utilizes a complex financing structure similar to what is expected for redevelopment of CDA’s units at the Triangle.
“The Triangle is a special place. It’s an affordable community in the heart of our city, rich with history and opportunity. Our entire team is committed to ensuring its sustainable future,” says Anne Neujahr Morrison, Principal at NYI.
The developer and its team will provide professional services related to the planning, application and project development process for repositioning of HUD-financed public housing, including expertise in other financing, leveraging, and financial planning tools such as LIHTC. Other redevelopment team consultants will include a number of leading Madison-based firms, including EQT By Design community engagement/equity specialists; Potter Lawson as master planners and architects; and Saiki Design landscape architects. Baker Tilly will also be engaged to help the CDA convert housing units under HUD’s repositioning tools, access other affordable housing financing options and navigate the development process successfully by recommending the best project financial structure.
Following negotiation of a developer’s agreement, the CDA expects to formally kick off the planning and visioning process for the Triangle in early 2022.
Moody’s Investor Service has continued Madison’s Aaa bond rating with a stable outlook. The rating is for the $93 million in tax-exempt general obligation bonds and notes for capital projects and $54.8 million of taxable and tax-exempt general obligation refunding bonds and notes that will be issued by the City next week. This is the highest possible rating an issuer can receive. It affirms the city’s sound financial and budget management, conservative debt repayment structure, stable economy relative to the state and nation, and solid general fund reserves.
“The COVID pandemic of the past roughly 18 months has increased economic concerns nation-wide, and it is very gratifying that Madison continues to receive is Aaa Bond Rating. This rating acknowledges our City’s long-term stability, commitment to sound financial management, investment in sustainability and resilience, and the strength of our cultural and business climate,” said Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. “It has not been easy, but I know that my office, City staff and the Common Council will continue to work cooperatively to serve Madison by exercising prudent fiscal management.”
Moody’s cited a stable and diverse economy, sound financial operations and a history of healthy reserves and cash balances as well as manageable debt and pension burdens among the city’s strengths. Analysts noted however that challenges include strict levy limits that reduce the city’s revenue raising flexibility for operations, as well as impacts of economic conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The service also noted that sound financial operations benefit from strong budgetary control and stable reserve levels. They report that the city’s sound financial profile is expected to continue due to the presence of healthy reserves.
The rating confirms market confidence in the city’s economic condition and the Mayor and Council’s fiscal management. Moody’s identified four conditions that could change the rating downward in the future – significant increases in debt and associated debt service, weakening of the city’s tax base and resident income levels, material declines in operating reserves and liquidity, and weakened financial conditions for the city’s utilities.
One of the most important acts the City takes every year is to adopt a budget. The City budget is comprised of a Capital Budget and an Operating Budget. The Capital Budget provides funding for the City’s major construction projects including building new facilities, improving our transit system, maintaining our roads and parks, and purchasing major equipment. The Operating Budget provides money for running City departments and services. It pays for the day-to-day spending on employees and materials and supplies.
Today, I released my Capital Budget, and shared some highlights of it through the press release below. I invite you to read that press release to learn more about the highlights, and look the Executive Capital Budget and 5-Year Capital Improvement Plan at https://www.cityofmadison.com/finance/budget.
**Mayor Rhodes-Conway Releases 2022 Executive Capital Budget **and Capital Improvement Plan
Today, Mayor Rhodes-Conway releases the 2022 Executive Capital Budget and 5-Year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) detailing her funding proposal for buildings, infrastructure, and other capital investments for Madison.
In this Capital Budget, the Mayor proposes to increase funding for affordable housing and homeownership assistance to those who need it most, expand the opportunity to own and grow a business, improve critical transit service to underserved communities, and expand our investments in sustainability.
“COVID is still present in our community, as are the unprecedented challenges it has created,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway. “The ongoing response to the pandemic has reinforced the importance of resilience and sustainability, and my 2022 Executive Capital Budget seeks to focus our capital investments on those priorities.”
“The City is working to support residents and businesses that are struggling and to address the underlying inequities in our community. The programs and projects that we fund as a City are a core way in which we do that,” said the Mayor.
The Mayor presented her Executive Capital Budget at Main Street Industries, a business incubator owned and operated by Common Wealth Development. Four businesses within the incubator space have been recipients of Small Business Equity and Recovery program grants. The Executive Capital Budget proposes to grow the Small Business Equity and Recovery program, including the Commercial Building Ownership program, by $500,000 per year in future years to further support women, people of color, and other underrepresented entrepreneurs to start or grow their businesses and invest in economic recovery. This budget also increases the Healthy Retail Access Program by $500,000 compared to the 2021 CIP, and proposes a new program to support smaller capital projects proposed by non-profits to help specific neighborhoods or populations.
Housing remains a critical priority for Madison, and the Executive Capital Budget proposes to increase affordable housing and homeownership to those who need assistance the most through nearly $20 million for consumer lending programs ($4.7 million more than in the 2021 CIP), and $42 million ($3.5 million more than in the 2021 CIP) to increase the supply of affordable housing. The CIP also begins planning for the redevelopment of aging public housing, including Truax Apartments, Theresa Terrace, and the Triangle, which serve some of the City’s most vulnerable residents.
To take advantage of the opportunity provide by the federal government, this budget includes $120,000 to help plan for train service to Madison under the Amtrak Connect US plan. This budget also continues the City’s commitment to constructing a bus rapid transit system in Madison which will improve commute times, reduce congestion, and serve as the backbone of a growing economy, including $4 million in 2023 to plan for the North-South bus rapid transit (BRT) line in addition to the East-West BRT line that will soon be under construction.
To move us toward a more sustainable Madison, the budget expands community sustainability programming, including increased funding for the MadiSUN solar program; investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation in naturally-occurring affordable housing; and a new community sustainability grant program. This budget will improve the sustainability of government services by investing $16.5 million to acquire electric public works vehicles and buses and $2.25 million to convert all City-owned street lights to LEDs. It also invests in renewable energy and energy efficiency of City facilities, utilizing our successful Green Power solar trainee program.
One notable difference from a year ago is that we have a new President and Congress that are focused on helping cities. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), for the first time in decades, allocated general financial support directly to all cities. The 2022 Executive Capital Budget includes $9.75 million for specific projects from the priorities outlined in the City’s ARPA plan, including converting a hotel to housing, youth-centered housing, and energy efficiency improvements to naturally occurring affordable housing.
“The 2022 Executive Capital Budget reflects the needs of our community and balances them with the resources available,” said the Mayor, “Building back better from the pandemic means we must address racial equity and social justice – through sustainable ways of living and working, through housing options that are affordable for everyone, and through strategies to foster equitable business development. This budget makes investments to advance those goals.”
The Executive Capital Budget will be introduced at the August 31st Common Council meeting. There will be multiple public hearings and opportunities for comment before the budget is adopted in November. The City’s full budget process, along with detailed budget information, can be found at https://www.cityofmadison.com/finance/budget.
Last night the Madison Common Council approved the 2021 Capital and Operating Budgets. The Council adopted a $166.4 million Capital Budget and a $349.5 million Operating Budget that was about $28,000 below the allowable levy increase.
“This was a very difficult budget for the City of Madison. We started with a $16 million deficit due to the pandemic, but ultimately we were able to move forward in a way that still supports critical investments in housing, homelessness, youth jobs and more. We also made progress on reimagining public safety with important new investments in a Violence Prevention Unit and an alternative crisis response team for behavioral health emergencies,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway.
Achieving a balanced budget required a combination of service changes and reductions, employee furloughs, use of the City’s “rainy day” fund, and fee increases. “We are facing significant economic challenges,” said the Mayor, “and we employed a number of strategies and sacrifices to ensure we can continue to deliver core services to all Madison residents. I want to thank the Common Council for their efforts to strengthen the COVID relief fund, increase affordable housing and support street outreach for the homeless.”
“Taxpayers will be pleased to know that we accomplished all this while holding the property tax increase to the lowest level in over five years. The levy increase for City government will be 2.37 percent, the lowest since 2015. The 15-year average has been 4.3 percent,” said the Mayor.
Madison’s 2021 budget:
New York, November 25, 2019 -- Moody's Investors Service assigns a Aa2 rating to the City of Madison, WI's $33.9 million Water Utility Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2019A and $13.1 million Taxable Water Utility Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2019B. Concurrently, we assign a MIG 1 to the city's $20 million Water Utility Revenue Bond Anticipation Notes, Series 2019 and affirm the Aa2 rating on the city's outstanding water utility revenue debt. The outlook has been revised to stable from negative.
The Aa2 rating reflects the system's stable customer base that includes the Wisconsin (Aa1 stable) state capital and the University of Wisconsin's flagship campus, improved liquidity and debt service coverage following a drawdown in liquidity and the failure to generate net revenues needed to meet the 1.25x debt service coverage required by its rate covenant in fiscal 2017. Also incorporated are its high debt burden and limited rate setting ability.
The MIG 1 rating on the bond anticipation notes (BAN) incorporates underlying credit characteristics reflected in the water enterprise's Aa2 revenue bond rating and satisfactory management of take-out refinancing risks.
The stable outlook reflects our expectation that the utility's debt service coverage and liquidity position will remain satisfactory following a rate increase approval.
New York, November 25, 2019 -- Moody's Investors Service affirms the Aa2 rating on the city of Madison, WI's outstanding sewer revenue debt. The outlook has been revised to stable from negative.
The Aa2 rating reflects the system's stable customer base that includes the Wisconsin (Aa1 stable) state capital and the University of Wisconsin's flagship campus, healthy debt service coverage supported by unlimited rate setting authority, strong liquidity and a modest debt profile.
The stable outlook reflects our expectation that the utility's debt service coverage and available liquidity will remain sound, given its unlimited rate setting authority and a stable customer base anchored by the significant institutional presence provided by the University of Wisconsin and the city's role as the state capital.
New York, November 25, 2019 -- Moody's Investors Service affirms the Aaa rating on city of Madison, WI's general obligation unlimited tax (GOULT) debt. Concurrently, we affirm the Aa2 rating on the city's outstanding Madison Community Development Authority, WI's (CDA) lease revenue bonds. The outlook has been revised to stable from negative.
The Aaa GOULT rating reflects the city's sizeable tax base which continues to expand given a strong, diverse economy with significant institutional presence. Also incorporated are the city's healthy operating reserves and liquidity, limited revenue raising flexibility, and high fixed costs.
The Aa2 lease revenue rating is notched twice from the city's GOULT rating, incorporating the risk of annual non-appropriation of lease payments and the less essential nature of the financed projects, which include a convention center and parking facility.
The stable outlook reflects our expectation of continued economic and financial stability due to long-standing government and higher education presences within the city, coupled with conservative fiscal management.
Moody’s Investor Service has continued Madison’s Aaa bond rating with a negative outlook. The rating is for the $110.2 million in tax-exempt general obligation bonds and notes that will be issued by the City next week. This is the highest possible rating an issuer can receive. It affirms the city’s sound financial and budget management, conservative debt repayment structure, stable economy relative to the state and nation, and solid general fund reserves. A negative outlook was affixed to all of the city’s debt in 2018 due to the draw down of cash balances at the Water Utility as a result of higher maintenance costs and the timing of the utility’s most recent rate approval by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC).
“It is very gratifying that Madison continues to receive a Aaa Bond Rating which reflects our city’s long-term stability and favorable business climate,” said Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. “I am committed to continued cooperation between my office, city staff and the Common Council to ensure we make the tough decisions necessary to deliver the results our residents expect while exercising prudent fiscal management.”
Moody’s cited a stable and diverse economy, sound financial operations and a history of healthy reserves as well as manageable debt and pension burdens among the city’s strengths. Analysts noted however that challenges include strict levy limits that reduce the city’s revenue raising flexibility for operations. The service also noted that sound financial operations benefit from strong budgetary control and stable reserve levels. They report that the city’s sound financial profile is expected to continue due to the presence of healthy reserves, including the Water Utility’s repayment of the cash advance from the city’s General Fund in December 2018.
The rating confirms market confidence in the city’s economic condition and the Mayor and Council’s fiscal management. Moody’s identified three conditions that could change the rating down in the future – significant increases in fixed costs, including debt service, weakening of the city’s tax base and resident income levels, and material declines in operating reserves and liquidity, including the financial condition of the Water Utility.
The City of Madison is selling community bonds* from Oct. 3 – Oct. 9, 2018! By buying community bonds, residents can invest in the future of our City, and earn interest that is exempt from federal taxes at the same time.
The City will use the funds from the community bond program for the expansion of Olbrich Botanical Gardens. The new learning center at the Gardens will welcome learners of all ages, interests, abilities, and backgrounds. An energy-efficient greenhouse will grow even more flowers and plants for the gardens.
“This partnership gives Madison area residents an opportunity to invest in one of the jewels of the City: Olbrich Gardens,” said Mayor Soglin. “Working alongside the capital campaign overseen by the Olbrich Botanical Society, this bond offering is another way to be a part of a facility that will serve all ages and demographics for years to come. I am excited to give our residents easier access to investing in our community and getting a good return on that investment.”
Community bonds will be sold in denominations of $500. This is significantly lower than typical bonds offered by the City, making this program more accessible to community investors.
Through Neighborly Securities, the City will sell up to $2.1 million in community bonds during the 7-day purchase period, Oct. 3 – Oct. 9, 2018.
“By providing smaller denominations than typical City debt offerings, Neighborly’s community bond program is in keeping with Madison’s long-standing commitment to civic action,” said David Schmiedicke, Finance Director for the City of Madison. “It will give our residents a much easier way to invest in our triple-A rated city, and they can expect a solid return on that investment.”
Residents interested in buying community bonds can register an account before the order period at cityofmadison.com/community-bonds.
Our city is noted for many great qualities – the natural beauty of the lakes, the vibrancy of the University of Wisconsin campus, the downtown celebrations and neighborhood festivals, the steady employment of old and new employers. We have the lowest unemployment and strong property value growth– in fact, Madison’s economy lifts Wisconsin.
Those great qualities attract a diverse population to our city – university students, professionals, service sector employees, and those hoping to enter a new exciting, rewarding life they could not find elsewhere. Madison’s Neighborhood Indicators Project (found online here -- https://madison.apl.wisc.edu/ ) is an excellent tool to understand the diverse nature of our city.
In the area near the airport, for example, nearly 14 percent of Madison Metropolitan School District students that live there are considered _high mobility _– meaning that they transferred 2 or more times between schools in the past three years – which is among the highest rates in the city. The lowest rate of mobility was 1.8 percent in the Midvale area. Economically disadvantaged students (from families with income below 185 percent of the federal poverty level – about $46,400 for a family of four) ranged from a low of 2.8 percent in the Midtown area on the west side to 92 percent in the Marlborough area south of the Beltline.
Seventy-eight percent of the population in Marlborough is non-white; less than 30 percent of the homes are owner-occupied; and nearly 35 percent of the population is under the age of 17 – the highest share of young people in the City. In contrast, 18 percent of the Midtown area’s population is non-white; 82 percent of the housing is owner-occupied; and 30 percent of the population is under the age of 17. Throughout the City, children of color constituted 44 percent of the child population under 5 years old, compared to people of color comprising 20 percent of the adult population (2010 Census data).
Sharing the prosperity of our growing city is a goal we continue to seek. We have focused resources on interrupting the cycle of violence in our City, with some marked progress over the past year. We have invested in affordable housing units, and are on pace to create 1,000 units in 5 years. Place-making efforts are underway to create greater community in our neighborhoods facing the most challenges, as are efforts to diversify access to healthy food, including development of a Public Market. The City is also phasing in a $15 minimum wage for its staff.
More needs to be done. Many of our residents may not be aware of, or have the time to access, the broad array of city services. Many of those residents would benefit from the services we provide and help fund. In my executive budget, I will be focusing resources on strategies to better connect those residents to our city.
Improving the allocation of city resources through data-informed decision-making is one of the key parts of the City’s Performance Excellence Initiative. One part of that initiative – Results Madison – is working to inventory all City services, develop performance measures for each, and better connect those services to the results all our residents expect. Many agencies have either begun or completed this work. When building your budget, I encourage you to use the insights gained from that process and focus on the service level supported by your proposed budget. Another part of that initiative will gather survey data from our residents and use that information to enhance our processes to continuously improve city services.
The state and federal governments do little to help us serve all our residents. Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and State Shared Revenue funding has been stagnant or declining for decades. We must continue to find ways to innovate within a multitude of state mandates and policies of a federal government that are devoid of meaningful investments in local transportation options and associated job growth.
The 2019 operating budget will again present many challenges, including stagnant federal and state aid and local revenues, strict state mandated limits on operating costs, rising debt service and increased operating costs due to our capital construction program, pay equity goals for City employees, adequate funding for public safety services and other key priorities.
With this in mind, I am directing each of you to follow these budget instructions for 2019. I am also directing that you reduce costs and implement efficiencies within your base budgets.
Agencies that wish to offer supplemental budget requests for high-priority needs can use the form provided on the Budget Sharepoint page. These requests should explain the proposal, articulate the desired outcome and identify ways to measure progress toward achieving the outcome. All agencies that submit supplemental requests must prioritize those requests. I will review these proposals for possible inclusion in my executive budget and may request additional information from agencies as the operating budget is developed.
Your budget requests should be developed with equity in mind, through use of various tools, processes and procedures of the Racial Equity and Social Justice Initiative (RESJI). Please contact RESJI staff for more information on use of RESJI tools.
We are a great city because we care about our neighbors and seek success for all. City government is working to better align itself to achieve the results its residents expect. We will truly make progress toward our vision of a Madison that is inclusive, innovative and thriving for all our residents.