Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.

Police body camera (copy)

A police body camera is shown in this file photo.

An $83,000 police body-worn camera pilot program could be included in the 2021 Capital Budget if the full City Council approves the funds during final budget deliberations in November.  

Ald. Barbara Harrington-McKinney, District 1, offered the budget amendment for a one-year program that would fund 48 body-worn cameras in the city’s north district for patrol officers, sergeants and the Community Policing Team. 

“We owe it to our city in terms of transparency,” Harrington-McKinney said. 

Madison’s Finance Committee recommended the program on a 4-2 vote Monday. Committee members added a requirement that implementation would be contingent upon the City Council adopting a resolution following a final report from a committee currently studying how body cameras would be used in the city.    

The program is an amendment to Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway’s proposed $161.6 million executive 2021 Capital Improvement Plan.  

Madison’s City Council has reviewed similar proposals during past budget deliberations, but to date, has not approved the use of body cameras. A committee is currently studying the feasibility of the Madison Police Department using this equipment. 

Harrington-McKinney said she wants a pilot program to run on a parallel track to the work of the committee and be “proactive.” However, Ald. Rebecca Kemble, District 18, said the city should wait until the Body-Worn Camera Feasibility Review Committee has completed its work. 

“Respecting the committee means respecting the entirety of what they have to recommend,” Kemble said. 

Kemble and Ald. Keith Furman, District 19, voted against the amendment.  

[Finance Committee to consider 12 amendments to mayor's 2021 Capital Improvement Plan]

Fire Station 6 

Overall, the committee adopted 10 of 12 proposed amendments, which included advancing funding to remodel the east side Fire Station 6 from 2023 and 2024, to 2021 and 2022. 

This project would include creating separate facilities for men and women at Fire Station 6. The amendment decreased funding for the project allocated in the executive capital budget $181,000.

“There’s not a lot of women in our organization that feel comfortable there primarily because of the sleeping and bathroom arrangements,” Fire Chief Steven Davis said. 

Station 6 is the last of Madison’s fire stations to be remodeled to include separate sleeping quarters. Currently, sleeping, shower and bathroom facilities are located in large rooms and not separated by gender. 

In addition to adding separate gender facilities, the remodel would accommodate more employee isolation areas, which have become increasingly important during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Our first responders need to be able to be at their fire stations and socially distance and have the ability to rest without risk of having a spread within a station,” Ald. Michael Tierney, District 16, said. 

Burn tower for training

On a tie 3-3 vote, the committee failed to approve a $1.9 million burn tower, or training tool, for the fire department. Madison fire fighters are required to have about 20 training hours per year and currently use facilities at Madison College. 

However, the technical college’s facilities are in high demand by other fire departments and not easily accessible. 

“An important step for training in the Madison Fire Department — and that’s the basis for everything we do — is to have our own tower with our own availability,” Davis said. 

In other actions, the committee approved amendments that: 

  • Push back the $16 million Reindahl Imagination Center and library from 2023 and 2024 to 2022 and 2023.    
  • Move $50,000 from room tax funds for improvements to Monona Terrace’s loading dock 
  • Add an Elver Park community center to the Horizon List. This list includes projects that meet a clear community purpose but need more planning to be considered for inclusion in the capital Improvement Plan.

An amendment affecting $70,000 for fire building improvements was referred. 

City Council members will have an opportunity to offer amendments on the 2021 Capital Budget and the five-year Capital Improvement Plan before a final vote. Those amendments will be released Nov. 6 ahead of the final vote during the week of Nov. 9.  

The capital budget funds large expenditures like physical infrastructure, the operating budget accounts for the city’s daily business like personnel and programming. The mayor will announce her operating budget proposal for next year on Oct. 6. 

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