The 2018 executive budget proposed by Fitchburg Mayor Jason Gonzalez on Friday would cut all funding that the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County has used for the last five years to transport children to the club’s Allied Drive facility and feed them.

It also removes a $10,000 allocation to the Badger Prairie Needs Network and a $50,000 community grant fund administered by the Community Economic Development Authority.

“It’s shameful,” said Boys and Girls Club CEO Michael Johnson, who says the mayor informed him at the end of the business day Friday.

The $50,000 represents about 18 percent of BGC’s annual budget, and one quarter of one percent of the $20 million city budget.

The budget reflects $50,000 in electricity savings due to the installation of solar panels on the roofs of several City buildings. It also includes new funding for operations of the new West Fire Station. The overall budget represents about a $1 million increase from the 2017 adopted budget.

Johnson said he will mobilize supporters to oppose the cut in funding, as he did last year when an amendment to then-mayor Steve Arnold’s budget attempted to move BGC funding into the CEDA fund. More than 250 BGC supporters attended the Fitchburg City Council meeting where the amendment was defeated and BGC funding was saved.

More than 250 people attended a Fitchburg City Council meeting last year, leading to the defeat of an amendment that would have defunded BGC.

“It’s shameful that every single year we have to fight for this funding,” Johnson said. “I’m just sick of people saying well go to the private sector, go to the business community. Yes you have to do (private fundraising). But the city also has to do their part to support kids in this community. The city is obligated to provide services for kids.”

He also criticized Gonzalez for not engaging in dialog with community leaders affected by funding cuts.

“At the end of the day, they have not had a clean process,” Johnson said. “At the end of the day there’s no other organization that provides the kind of services that we provide.”

Johnson also said he plans to produce TV ads to air on local stations opposing the cut and “will have a donor lined up to pay for them directly on our behalf.”

The city’s finance committee meets October 3.

Gonzalez did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment and clarification.

 

Written by Robert Chappell

Robert Chappell

Robert Chappell is associate publisher of Madison365.

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