Census 2020 first step

I really love the Census, so much of the work I do making maps requires it. I frequently work with international data, and it the US Census is among the most complete country-wide data collected across the globe. We use it for analysis and understanding our population. It is immensely important for the work we do at the county.

The United States Constitution requires a census of the population every ten years.  The U. S. Census counts people of all ages, races, ethnic groups, and citizens and non-citizens.  Population totals from the decennial Census determine the number of seats each state has in the United States House of Representatives and are used to redraw state legislative districts, county supervisory districts, and municipal aldermanic districts, and is used to determine the appropriation of approximately $675 billion in federal funds for state and local programs.

The Complete Count Committee will work for one year, and is a group of diverse community leaders appointed by the County Executive for the purpose of developing and implementing a comprehensive 2020 Census awareness campaign in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau.  Communities throughout the country have begun forming these committees, including the cities of Madison and Middleton. Dane County will coordinate with municipal committees, and will focus geographically outside of Madison.  Additionally, the county will identify areas with a low initial response for the 2010 census and will focus on improving the response for 2020. 

 The goals of the Dane County 2020 Census Complete Count Committee are to:

  • ensure an accurate count of every resident,

  • ensure an accurate count of most likely undercounted communities,

  • achieve a high return of online, phone, and mailed Census surveys,

  • make every resident aware of the Census, and

  • make every resident aware that the information they provide for the Census is kept in complete confidence.

If you, or your organization, would like to be involved, please reach out: buckingham.tanya@countyofdane.com.

Below is the introduction of the resolution. A huge thanks to Supervisor Chawla of District 6 for helping me with figuring out the starting point in the video.

Buckeye Road Update

Cap Times, March 16

Cap Times, March 16

Yesterday afternoon, “in the spirit of compromise and a desire to get the project moving forward for families in the neighborhood,” the Director of Dane County Public Works, Highway and Transportation, delivered an offer to Madison City Engineer with the parameters the city had outlined, including:

Collaborative reconstruction — as has been agreed to the whole time, with only the ask that the city take over snow removal. In the Cap Times this morning, Abby Becker reported, “As a Madison east side resident, Parisi said he sees county plows driving down the same street that city plows pass through on their way to clean up side streets.” Parisi said, “It’s just an incredibly inefficient way to approach our streets.” The snow and ice removal maintenance agreement assures that snow and ice removal are done as efficiently as possible — reducing redundancy in salt application and fuel usage.

The county will continue to do the crack filling, street patching, and pavement lane marking. The city is already responsible for 100% of the street lighting, sweeping, and crosswalk marking. This would remain the same. Additionally, there is no transfer of jurisdiction. The county will share half of the expense of resurfacing Buckeye, and 80% of chip sealing—as is the cost sharing with all municipalities.

The urgency to complete the project is reflected in the proposal. If accepted, there is good potential for the project to move forward this summer.

Please Protect our Pollinators!

Mindy Habecker, Dane County Extension Natural Resources Educator, talking about pollinators

Mindy Habecker, Dane County Extension Natural Resources Educator, talking about pollinators

Mindy Habecker, Dane County Extension Natural Resources Educator presented at today’s UW Extension meeting.

The Dane County Environmental Council is charged with guiding the implementation of the report recommendations produced by the Dane County Pollinator Protection Task Force. The goals are: 1. Expand education and outreach efforts 2. Maximize pollinator-friendly land use and management.

You can see the progress the Dane County Pollinator Protection Task Force at their 2018 Progress Report (link).

Why should we work to protect our pollinators?

A pollinator is any animal that visits flowering plants and transfers pollen from flower to flower, aiding plant reproduction. Wisconsin pollinators include bees, butterflies, moths, flower flies, beetles, wasps, and hummingbirds. Bees purposefully collect pollen as a protein source for their offspring, making them the most efficient pollinators. There are approximately 20,000 bee species in the world, 3,600 in the United States and over 400 in Wisconsin. All forty-seven species of North American bumble bees nest in colonies, as do some smaller bees, but over 90% of all bee species are solitary (do not live in colonies). The overwhelming majority of all bees are wild (not managed by humans).

In Wisconsin, pollinator-dependent crops account for over $55 million in annual production. These crops include apples, cranberries, cherries, green beans, pickling cucumbers and fresh market fruits and vegetables. Honey and beeswax contribute an additional $3.5 million . High rates of annual honey bee colony loss are of concern in the United States and Europe. During the 2014- 15 winter season, Wisconsin was among the U.S. states suffering an annual honey bee colony loss greater than 60%.

You can learn more through their handout, also available in Spanish, and hard copies be requested for your library, visitor center, city center, etc.

What can you do to help pollinators?

  • Reduce pesticide use, especially to flowering plants and shrubs or to areas where pollinators may be nesting.

  • Cultivate or plant flowering trees, shrubs, and herbaceous flowering plants that bloom throughout the growing season from early spring until late fall, especially native species.

  • Choose a variety of flower colors. Bees are most attracted to blue, white, yellow, and purple flowers. Butterflies like white, pink, purple, red, yellow, and orange. Beetles are attracted to white and green flowers. Moths like white flowers that bloom at night.

Comfort Bags for People with Dementia

Supervisor Eicher, Dane County Dementia Care Specialist Joy Schmidt, and I, Sun Prairie Colonial Club

Supervisor Eicher, Dane County Dementia Care Specialist Joy Schmidt, and I, Sun Prairie Colonial Club

Channel 15 recently covered the work we did on the Health and Human Needs committee to provide comfort bags to people living with dementia.

The work is a beautiful example of what happens when we work together. This project was a result of the regular dialogue that Monona Mayor Mary O’Connor and I have. Leading into the budget season, I asked her for opportunities to support District 24 that would also benefit the whole county. Diane Mikelbank, the Monona Senior Center Director responded to the request, with the idea of bringing Comfort Bags to Dane County—something she had learned about from a neighboring county. When I proposed the budget amendment, the county staff got to work and figured out how to implement the plan.

The bags have objects that can distract a person living with dementia when their primary care giver has to go with first responders in an emergency situation. Joy Schmidt the Dane county Dementia Care Specialist works hard throughout Dane County to train communities in becoming dementia friendly, and train first responders on assisting people with dementia. She met with us as the bags were distributed last week in Sun Prairie. Comfort bags are being distributed to communities throughout Dane County. At the time of the filming for NBC, five communities had received the bags.

Volunteers in Dane County, including the RSVP sewing group, have sewn and donated some of the multi-sensory muffs for this project, and have helped assemble the bags. Once the bags are given to an individual, due to sanitary reasons, they are left with that person who can either keep or dispose them.

NBC15 Segment on Comfort Bags

NBC15 Segment on Comfort Bags

In addition to the bags, Joy would like people to know about the medical information cards, called File of Life cards. Joy hopes that every home of a person with dementia has one. You can see them with the comfort bag in the photo. These cards contain personal information that is critical in an emergency.

File of Life cards are useful in any home where a person with dementia lives

File of Life cards are useful in any home where a person with dementia lives

My Recommendations on the Lake Level Task Force

Tonight, the Lake Level Task Force held a public hearing. Several community members spoke in favor of and against three of the options in the technical report: 1.) Lower Lake Mendota, 2.) Dredging, and 3.) Rerouting and Pumping. We heard passionate arguments in favor and against each of these options. In addition, we heard support of exploring more infiltration options. After reading all of the reports, the presentations of the scientists, and public comments, I have come to some long, medium, and short term goals that I would like to see come out of the recommendations of the Task Force. I have written them here in order to get feedback from those of you living on Lake Monona, the everyday-experts; those of you who spend a bit of time every day on the lake, who monitor lake levels throughout the season, and who have too much experience with sandbags.

First, a few quick resources for background informaiton:

  • Find links to technical documents and public comments at the Land & Water Resources page here (link).

  • The Technical Working Group report can be found here (link).

  • A quick overview of meetings can be found at my website post on Feb 10, here (link).

My recommendations

The Yahara Chain of Lakes - Lake Levels Task Force has met four times, for several hours, and each of us has read many reports of work done both for this iteration of the lake discussion, as well as historical documents. My approach for supporting resilient lakes that can respond to increasing rain events, in severity and frequency is prevention at the upstream sources. However, many of those options will take time. So, they must be combined with actions that can be taken as soon as possible. The suggestions that I offer, are supported by the experts on the committee, those that testified, and the models that were run during the study—they are science-based solutions. They are listed in, what I believe to be, chronological order of ability to see impact.

Additionally, if there are possibilities in jointly addressing flooding and phosphorus in our lakes, then extra attention should be paid to those options.

Short-term (1–2 years) — Increase Flow


There is some thought that if the permitting began very soon, we could see some of the biggest bottlenecks in the system of lakes improved yet this summer. We must take action that will move water water out of the system before any other scenario can be considered. Pages 12–15 of the technical report show some of those choke points in the system. Figure 8 (included below) is an example. You can see the uneven bottom of the Yahara River. Dredging would allow for the water to continue to move more downhill rather than facing the friction of an uneven surface.

Adjust Mangement Manual to Manage Lake Levels at Seasonal Minimums

With input from County Staff, there could be an adjustment to the management manual to manage the lakes at a seasonal minimum until the impact of the actions taken can be evaluated. The trouble with this is, even if the manual is changed, getting the lakes to the seasonal minimum could prove problematic given how much snow we have on the ground, and will depend on the rainfall we see this spring and summer.

Medium-term (3–5 years) — Continue to Increase Flow & Systemic Changes

Infiltration (shorter-term)

Infiltration has long and medium-range goals. The idea of infiltration is that we create more opportunities for rainwater to soak into the ground like a sponge. We can do this by creating environments that are softer, and including plants that absorb more water. Nature provides these in the form of wetlands, an incredibly valuable resource in flood resistance. In the shorter-term we can be restoring wetlands. When this was first proposed, I thought for sure this would be a multi-decade action. However, a community member and staff at The Nature Conservancy informed me that it is actually a much shorter timeframe than that. In a couple of years a wetland can be up and functioning to promote infiltration.

What I would like to see is an analysis of how much we need to increase infiltration to make the difference we really need to see for the impact of our lakes.

Additional benefits of increasing infiltration is that it reduces sediment accumulation, which reduces the amount of dredging maintenance necessary. It could also promote a reduction in phosphorus entering our lakes.

Other ways to increase infiltration are retrofitting buildings with green roofs, installing rain gardens on public property, as well as encouraging such actions for county residents.

Infiltration (longer-term)

An evaluation of zoning and building requirements to increase permeable surfaces on construction which could include installing green roofs, and permeable pavement.


This is the displacement of water from one point to another, through a diversion mechanism such as a pipeline. This option needs a lot more study, before proceeding. The map in the report, figure 27, shows the pipeline going through a wetland considered to be a national treasure by many organizations. Pumping in a different location may be a viable option, but a lot more information is needed before proceeding.

proposed pipe through waubesa wetland

Concern over the redirected water is significant and alternative routes have been discussed. Dr. Zedler, author of Waubesa Wetlands: A New Look at an Old Gem (available on the Town of Dunn website), warned us of the churning that can happen as a result of displaced water which can upset the delicate ecosystem, as well as biological concerns, especially as they relates to invasive species.

Long-term (5–10 years) — WiDNR Lake Level Evaluation

Lake Levels

The consideration of lowering Lake Mendota for storage is a longer-term decision, and not feasible until there is a way to move water out of the system. For this reason, I would move forward with increasing the ability to move water out of the system first, evaluate that progress, and then re-evaluate the need and possibility of lowering the lake levels. The process of lowering lake levels will be slow due the need for the Wisconsin DNR to conduct a complete study to update the targets set in 1979. It might make sense to move forward with initiating this project, since it is a slow process.

What does the action look like?

The Task Force will make recommendations that are intended to be reviewed by Lakes and Watershed Commission and Environment Agriculture and Natural Resources (EANR). A resolution, or possibly an ordinance, can be drafted to be approved by the Dane County Board. Here is what I would like to see in that resolution:

  1. Begin the process to obtain dredging permits

  2. Model and evaluate infiltration (wetlands, permeable pavement, etc.) scenarios — how much land is needed to have the necessary impact. Evaluate the feasibility of such an approach.

  3. Evaluate the possibility of acceptable routes for pumping that do not harm sensitive wetlands, complete a full environmental impact study of any of those proposed routes.

  4. Explore the impact of building and zoning regulations to increase permeable surfaces.

  5. Set a requirement to re-evaluate lake levels with new data, after mitigation actions are taken, and in partnership with the DNR.

  6. Extend the time that the Lake Level Task Force meets in order to oversee the progress of these recommendations, and evaluate the impact of the changes.

  7. What is missing? What would you like to see in what I advocate for in the final two meetings of the Lake Level Task Force?

What can you and I do in the meantime?

In the Spring 2019 Nature Conservancy Magazine, you can find an article titled Planning for a Rainy Day. In the article you will learn more about the power of rain gardens, and green roofs: steps we can all take to helping to absorb rainwater. An example of action that can be taken is the recent approval by the Sustainability Subcommittee to install a green roof on the City County Building. Thanks to Dr. Zedler for speaking and brining this to our attention.

Spring 2019  Nature Conservancy Magazine ,  Planning for a Rainy Day

Spring 2019 Nature Conservancy Magazine, Planning for a Rainy Day

Love for the Community Restorative Court

On Valentine’s Day the Health and Human Needs (HHN) committee met to discuss a series of considerations for regular business, you can see more about that by taking a look at the minutes (link). We also heard from the Dane County Community Restorative Courts. A huge thank you to HHN Chair, Supervisor Jaime Kuhn and Director of Human Services, Lynn Green, and their commitment to organizing visits from service providers within the county human services. We have all learned a tremendous amount from the staff that have visited from various areas of this very large department.

The same was true the week of February 14th, when we learned more details about the Community Restorative Court, and the success it has had across our community. The website proudly announces the Community Restorative Courts (CRC): repair harm, reduce risk, rebuild community.

The CRC is victim based, offender focused, and community driven. As you can see in the report presented to us, there is a 90% successful completion rate, with an incredible impact on recidivism, with only 7.64% of those who have completed the process with a CCAP record after 6 months.

Recently, I have learned of some stories where these practices have been used in schools with great success. I hope we can continue to expand the work of the CRC, bringing positive change for everyone involved.

You can learn more by reading some of these stories about CRC in the news:

Court program aimed at giving troubled youth a second chance set to expand

Dane County receives $50,000 to support Community Restorative Court

Peacemaker program seeks community volunteers

Dane County Community Restorative Courts

Dane County Community Restorative Courts

Lake Level Task Force Public Hearing

The Lake Level Task Force has held the first three meetings (details here). The fourth meeting, a public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, March 5 at 5pm at Fen Oak (Lyman F Anderson Ag & Conservation Center, 5201 Fen Oak Drive). At the public hearing you will be able to ask questions of the task force and Technical Work Group experts who drafted the 2018 Yahara Chain of Lakes Flooding Report.

All public feedback has been recorded in the minutes. You can find easy access to the minutes and agenda in my post from Feb 10 (link) titled, Yahara Chain of Lakes - Lake Levels Task Force Meeting Schedule. Also, at the bottom of the Land & Water Resources Department website, Yahara Chain of Lakes - Lake Levels Task Force (link) you can find links to public comment that has been provided to each of the meetings.

Please attend on March 5, if you are able. If you are not able to attend, but would like to share your thoughts with me, please contact me.

LAnd & Water REsources department, Yahara Chain of Lakes - Lake Levels Task Force WEbsite

LAnd & Water REsources department, Yahara Chain of Lakes - Lake Levels Task Force WEbsite

Sustainability Subcommittee approves green roofs at CCB and energy saving at Alliant Energy Center

On Friday, the Public Works Sustainability Subcommittee convened to review three applications for improving the environmental impact of two county properties. The committee began with an election of committee leadership, selecting chair Supervisor Erickson — an advocate for sustainability who helped to create the Sustainable Management and Renewable Technologies (SMART) Fund (with former District 24 Supervisor, Robin Schmidt), which supports efficient energy initiatives. I was elected as vice chair.

Three initiatives, two at the Alliant Energy Center, and one at the City County Building were recommended for approval. The applications will move to Public Works, and if approved, will go before the county board.

Green Roof at the City County Building:

Install extensive living roof systems on each of the first floor roof Sections on the MLK elevation of the City County Building (approximately 3,800 total square feet). This project is really exciting, as it will model what can be done to retrofit older buildings to mitigate urban heat islands and storm water runoff.

Green roofs help reduce the Urban Heat Island Effect, which can increase urban temperatures up to 8 degrees Fahrenheit compared to surrounding rural areas and prolong and intensify heat waves in cities. (City of Chicago, 2008) They can also lower the energy demand by assisting in internal building temperature regulation. Additionally — and related to community conversation about storm water runoff — green roofs can absorb 50-100% of storm water.

Two initiatives at the Alliant Energy Center:

Replace 348 with 308 energy efficient LED fixtures. The result is to reduce contribution to fossil fuel dependence by reducing the amount of electricity and eliminate the need to send metal halide bulbs to the landfill. This project is expected to save 60,310 kilowatt hours of electricity usage per year, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42.6 metric tons, saving $12,425 per year, resulting in a payback period of 2.06 years for this project. This request is a result of similar successful projects in the past few years.

Replace large, slow speed roll up doors with two new 14’x16’ high speed Rytec Spiral doors. This project will reduce the electricity and gas used to cool and heat the building. Slow speed roll up doors are often left open show ingress and egress in all seasons. The project is estimated to save 13,085 therms of natural gas and 11,346 kWh of electricity, annually, leading to reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 77.4 metric tons leading to an estimated cost savings of $9,972, a payback of about 8.4 years. This project furthers the Sustainable Operations Plan goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions generated by all county operations and facilities, and to planning for and implementing climate adaptation measures to build resilience in the face of current and future impacts of global climate change on government operations and our community.

Chicago City Hall’s green roof — temperature differences between the vegetated and non-vegetated claimed to be as much as 70°

Chicago City Hall’s green roof — temperature differences between the vegetated and non-vegetated claimed to be as much as 70°

Dane County Spatial Data Available, Free

On September 20th the Land Information Council voted to make all Dane County GIS data available for free (excluding the 2017 orthophotos).

Senior GIS Analyst, Tim Confare, developed the Dane County Open Data portal where anyone can download spatial information. It is a pleasure to serve with colleagues committed to open access to data for important decision-making tools. A big thanks to Dr. Ventura, UW Madison Professor of Soil Science, and his ten years of service to the committee.



Yahara Chain of Lakes - Lake Levels Task Force Meeting Schedule



Meeting 1 - Welcome, introductions, overview of technical reports

Agenda (link)Minutes (link)
Feb 4, 5pm • Fen Oak

Meeting 2 - Detailed discussion of scenarios 1-4

Agenda (link)Minutes (link)
Feb 11, 6pm • City County Building, Room 354
Reminder: Technical Report, Adaptation Scenarios begin on page 21 (link)

Meeting 3 - Detailed discussion, scenarios 5-8

Agenda (link)Minutes (link)
Feb 18, 5pm • 
Fen Oak (Lyman F Anderson Ag & Conservation Center, 5201 Fen Oak Drive)

Meeting 4 - Public hearing

March 5 (Tuesday), 5pm • Fen Oak (Lyman F Anderson Ag & Conservation Center, 5201 Fen Oak Drive)

Meeting 5 - Draft recommendations

March 18, 5pm • City County Building

Meeting 6 - Final recommendations

April 1, 6pm • City County Building

Public comments can be emailed to: YaharaFlooding@CountyOfDane.com

August 2018 Yahara Lakes flooding

August 2018 Yahara Lakes flooding

Let's lead together!

Policy is better when more voices of people with different lived experiences are involved in the process. Before I ran for office I met with a lot of people who held elected positions. Each time I would ask them a handful of questions, one of them being, “What is the hardest part of being an elected official?” The former Mayor of Monona, Bob Miller, told me it was engagement — getting people to consistently engage in the process was the biggest struggle. This idea has been consuming a lot of my mind as I work on EngageDane with my colleagues, and picked up the book Bowling Alone after a recommendation during a Madison Mayoral Forum from Candidate Raj Shukla.

Which is all to say, join me! You don’t have to run for office — or maybe you could think about it! In the meantime, you could choose to sign up for a lot of different committees, non-profits, or volunteer opportunities. My path into elected office began with service to the Bridge LakePoint Waunona Community Center, but before that I was a Big Sister. One of the things I’ve done with each role is figured out how I can fit my life into the new role. “Where will my kids be welcome to participate with me?” is an important question. Volunteering or serving isn’t something that I do outside of my family life — it is integrated in it. There are a lot of ways you can get involved, which one is right for you? Monona has opportunities for you to join, and so does Dane County. Another opportunity is to be active with your elected officials — call me, get regular updates, give me your opinion! I can do this job so much better when I hear from you.

I’d love to know about more opportunities to serve in our community. Are you looking for volunteers? Do you have a favorite place or cause where you give your time?


Leading together

Better and stronger policy through inclusive engagement

Lake Levels Task Force, first meeting

In adherence to the  Res-227, 2018 by the Dane County Board of Supervisors, the Yahara Chain of Lakes – Lake Levels Task Force will meet on February 4 at 5pm, you can find the agenda here. There will be six meetings total (February 4th, 11th, 18th, March 5th 18th, and April 1st). Each meeting will begin at 5 pm and will take place at the CCB or at the Land & Water Resources Dept, 5201 Fen Oak Dr. Each meeting will conclude with public comment, and a public hearing will be held at the fourth meeting, March 5th,



Information for the first meeting:
Monday, February 4, 5pm

Lyman F Anderson Ag & Conservation Center 
5201 Fen Oak Drive - Room A/B Madison WI 53718

You can find information about the work at the Lakes and Waters resources website (link).

Lakes and Watershed Commission and the Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resource (EANR) Committee are convening these meetings, with the task of making policy recommendations based on the work group analyses, which can be read in the Technical Work Group Report (link).

Additional resources can be found in the links below:

Wisconsin Counties Association, Dane County Ambassador



On January 16th I attended the Wisconsin Counties Association County Ambassador Program. Several State Senators, Representatives, and staff engaged with the legislative agenda established by the Wisconsin Counties Association. Director of Dane County Human Services, Lynn Green, Juvenile Court Administrator of the Juvenile Reception Center, John Bauman, and I presented the four different topics.



Director Green led the team in presenting Children and Family Aids Allocation Increase. Administrator Bauman then discussed Secured Residential Care Centers for Children and Youth, and the impact of the state youth center closures. I talked briefly about the need to continue upgrades to our 911 system across the state, and provide ongoing maintenance funding with the Grants for Public Safety Answering Points, and in addition to the final point regarding Court-Appointed Attorney Compensation.

February 5 and 6 I will attend the WCA Legislative Exchange in Madison. In March, I will attend my first board meeting as a member of the WCA Board, a position Supervisor Kolar has held previously. Dane County Clerk Scott McDonnell also serves this body.

Approval pending on Lake Task Force appointment

Pending approval of the Yahara Chain of Lakes, Lake Levels Task Force Membership, at the Dec 17th meeting of Lakes & Watershed Executive Committee meeting, I will join other Supervisors and citizens who will consider future actions for the Yahara Chain of Lakes. Like several issues the County is balancing, I understand both the need for urgency and long-term prevention.

As always the best way for me to represent you is to know what you’re thinking and what you’re experiencing. Please contact me: (608) 237-6712, buckingham.tanya@countyofdane.com.

SANDbags in monona following 2018 floods

SANDbags in monona following 2018 floods

Budget overview

2019 Budget process

2019 Budget process

The budget process really helped me understand more deeply how, and where, the county services are integrated into our community. It also helped expose areas where we could be doing even more.

You can read the press release about the overall process here.

The amendments that I led focused on immigration, and engagement for youth and families in the La Follette neighborhood. There is simultaneously an urgent need, and long-term intervention to be invested in the youth of our community. Several community members and leaders have been meeting. I have joined in those meetings as well as talking with students and parents.

In addition to opening conversations with staff, families, and students in the La Follette neighborhood, as well as several leaders in the community, I worked with other community leaders and people in District 24 to set priorities for the upcoming year. Mayor O’Connor, and the Senior Center Director Diane Mikelbank suggested funding for a trial of EMS bags for people suffering with dementia, who may be left by their main caregiver in an emergency situation. The Human Services Department was able to accommodate this request, and a trial will launch in 2019.

I was so grateful to work with the County Executive, and his staff to listen to the desires of the people who came to testify at the public hearings. The Vets Ride With Pride Program is a popular program that provides a bus pass for Veterans. Demand for the program has exceeded capacity for the last few years. The additional funding ensures that Veterans in our community will have access to transportation year round. The program also supports the opportunity for staff to check in with Veterans on their health, and get them additional services if they are experiencing any concerns.

With the budget, we set the priorities of our county. Now, it is time to do the work. I am looking forward to heading into 2019 to put the budget in action.

I was proud to sign on as a co-sponsor to other amendments including:

  • Rapid Rehousing for Homeless Veterans and Chronically Homeless Individuals on Dane County Priority List and Increased Services for Rethke Residents, introduced by Supervisor Weigleitner

  • Outreach Inc. to fund a Transgender Health Advocate counseling led by Supervisor Kilmer

  • Sexual Assault Prevention Services, introduced by Supervisor Young

  • Redirecting funds to Anesis Therapy for Hmong Kajsiab and Catholic Multicultural Center to the Hmong Institute for Hmong Kajsiab Community Programming, led by Supervisors Kilmer and Kuhn

  • Fundraising effort by installing change collection sites at the Dane County Airport, that will support the JFF Eviction Prevention, led by Supervisor Eicher

  • A zero-dollar evaluation of mental health services, led by Supervisor Kuhn

  • Goodman Community Center mental health services in partnership with Anesis Therapy, lead sponsor Supervisor Kuhn

A colleague recently asked me what I was most proud of when it came to the budget. Upon reflection it was how collaborative and supportive our process was as a committee. We worked so hard to reach out to people around Dane County, respond to public testimony, and compromise with one another on how to move forward. Ultimately, in committee we cut our initial budget amendments by nearly half before sending them on to the Finance Committee. A couple of the things that I led that did not make it through the budget process included more funding for immigration support staff, and funding for parenting training for parents who are incarcerated. Both of these are needs that we still recognize. Researchers at UW-Madison continue to search for funding for the parenting instruction, and have won grants to pay for training for a trial, but are still in need of funding to support the program in the long-run. The additional support for immigration remains a critical need for our community.

As always this process works best when I hear from you. Please contact me: (608) 237-6712, buckingham.tanya@countyofdane.com.

PRESS RELEASE: Presentation to Address Historic Flooding and Control of Lake Levels

Monday, November 26, 2018 • 6:00 p.m.
Lussier Family Heritage Center, 3101 Lake Farm Road, Madison
This presentation is free and open to all members of the public.

In the wake of last summer's historic flooding, John Reimer, Assistant Director of the Dane County Land & Water Resources Department, will give a public presentation on how the levels on the Yahara chain of lakes are controlled. Mr. Reimer is responsible for lake level management, including aquatic plant harvesting and operation of the three dams in the Yahara chain of lakes. He'll explain what contributed to last summer's historic flooding, why managing lake levels is difficult, and what is planned to improve control of lake levels in the future. He'll also discuss new initiatives the County will include in its 2019 budget proposal to aid flood recovery, increase lake health, and build future resiliency.

Early Budget Process update


County budget is available.

Here's what I'm looking into with regard to budget amendments - 

Immigration. I am looking at two amendments:

$70,000 that would go to the Madison Community Foundation – Dane County Immigrant Assistance Fund. This organization assists immigrants in our community.

$80,000 for a second position in the Dane County Immigration Affairs office. Currently, there is only one social worker to do caseload management. This was a lot of work before ICE stepped up activity in the area, but now there are even more families relying on Fabioloa Hamden.

 Support for Neighborhood around La Follette High School. I have been meeting with school employees, students, and residents. Each group has expressed concern for recent gun activity, and youth violence. We are looking at reserving funding for a position, and community engagement that will influence how to move forward.

 Parent Training for Inmates. I serve the Creating Economic Stability Team at the United Way, and the Journey Home Delegation. This has introduced me to a lot of information and experts on corrections. I recently learned about an evidence-based program that helps parents in prison connect with their children. It helps them build tools, as well as dealing with the stigma of an incarcerated parent and trauma of separation. The training costs for 3 people will be around $6,000, and the work will be completed in partnership with UW-Madison researchers.

Monona. I put in a request to the Monona Mayor O’Connor late in the process. One of the benefits of knowing this process next year, is that I will start much earlier with my community requests! She is reaching out to staff and will get back to me with possible budget support for Monona.

Other items that were important to the work that I’ve been doing:

Vets Ride With Pride. During my Veterans Service Commission meeting, I learned that this program is critical not only in helping Veterans get around to important appointments, it is also a chance for staff to check in with Veterans and look for signs of mental and physical health concerns. A confirmation from the County Executive’s office informed me that the $10k increase that was added to the budget.

Kajsiab House. This effort was led by our committee chair Jamie Kuhn, and I was grateful to be alongside her to help where I could. We will have an amendment that helps keep the doors open through 2018, and allow for a proper transition for culturally competent mental health care. 

Overview of the budget process:

Oct 1 - 

  • County Exec released his budget

  • Us new folks are all excited to go through our first budget! 

  • It is a good budget addressing many of the concerns raised by the public

  • We start analyzing what was funded and looking for where we might suggest amendments.

Oct 11 - 

  • Health and Human Needs committee will go over the budget in detail, asking questions of the Human Services Director

Oct 17 - 

  • Public hearing on budget

Oct 19 - 

  • Amendments are due to the subcommittee

Oct 23-25 -

  • HHN Public Hearing

Oct 30 -

  • HHN will make the case to Personnel and Finance for the amendments it is requesting

Other updates:

Land Information Council. We had an open data win recently. All of Dane County’s spatial data will be openly available.

Engage Dane. A group of us researched how to better engage with people who don't typically contact government. I participated in four listening sessions with different groups around the city, including South Madison Planning Commission, Latino Support Network of Dane County, Area Agency on Aging, and the free community meal at First United Methodist Church. We collected the results and made recommendations on how to move forward. I look forward to continuing this work.

Flooding. The flooding was rough and we are not out of the woods. The recent rain has undone all of the progress we had seen over the last several weeks. I have attended a handful of meetings with the Director and Assistant Director of Department of Land and Water. The county passed a resolution which you can see here, to look at the trends, given the changing climate. Listening sessions tied to the task force approved in the resolution will be scheduled as part of the process, and Mayor O’Connor is coordinating an additional presentation. I will update when I have more dates.

Here are some of the things that the Exec has announced that he's funding:


SPECIAL POST: Questions about lake levels

Flood peak drone image shows water and weed levels (Image by Shane Fry)

Flood peak drone image shows water and weed levels (Image by Shane Fry)

On Thursday, Sept 20, there will be a committee of the whole meeting. You can read more about that here.

Last weekend, I attended the Belle Isle Neighborhood Association potluck where I heard from many of you about concerns and questions you have. I knew some of them, and some of them I need to ask of the experts. I have compiled your questions below. I have shared this with County Staff, and committee members who have been working on these issues, so that they can address them during the presentations. If you have any other questions that you would like answered, please reach out to me: buckingham.tanya@countyofdane.com.

Also, remember that you can livestream the meeting, and save yourself a trip to the City County Building. The link to livestream seems to be down as of tonight (Wed, Sept 19). If that is still the case, watch my Dane County Facebook page for updates.

Questions from you:

Lake levels -

What is the plan to deal with flooding in the future?

Is the control and lowering of Mendota permanently as the control lake going to be addressed? 

It seems that the handling of our lakes is very reactive, rather than proactive. Can you say a bit about how the decisions are made with regard to the level of the lakes?

It seems that the lakes are rarely at the low level to start the winter, what impact does it have if the lakes are high before the freeze?

Why are the current lake levels, specifically summer maximum levels, for Lakes Mendota and Monona not adhered to, followed or enforced?  And who is responsible for enforcement?

Infrastructure -

I would like to better understand what concerns there are regarding a potential failure of the Tenney Lock Dam. 

Some areas of concern are the following: a) are we worried about erosion around the dam, b) a mechanical failure of the gate, c) something else, and d) is there an emergency plan in such an event?  There was recent maintenance a year or two ago.  What was fixed then? 

Are there plans to somehow shore up the lock and dam or other preventative measures being taken to avoid this catastrophe? 

What additional infrastructure is needed to make sure that there is no bottleneck of weeds at the narrow parts of the chain of lakes?

Water quality -

How is runoff in the north being dealt with to mitigate blue-green algae?

Does slow-no-wake play a role in blue-green algae?

Why has the health of the water deteriorated so drastically in the recent past? What can be done about it?

Can you explain why the lake debris that I collect is not regularly collected?

Wildlife -

Why is Lake Mendota managed as a trophy lake with reduced bag limits which greatly increases fishing pressure, fishing tournaments and boat traffic on the rest of the Madison chain of lakes.  Should they not be managed in an equitable way so that all of the lakes receive the same pressure?

BellE Isle Neighborhood Meeting, September 16

BellE Isle Neighborhood Meeting, September 16


Issued By: County Board Supervisors
View only releases from County Board Supervisors

For more information contact:
Sharon Corrigan, County Board Chair 608.333.2285

Thursday meeting to address flooding impact and causes

Responding to flooding in the Yahara Lakes watershed, the Dane County Board is meeting as a Committee of the Whole to hear from County lakes experts and find answers to questions about the Yahara watershed. 

Additionally, a resolution that will be introduced at the Board Thursday calls for convening a group of experts to evaluate the situation and make policy recommendations by March 31, 2019. Those recommendations could include petitioning the state Department of Natural Resources to allow lower lake levels in the near-term and consider longer-term changes.

“Given the disastrous flooding we’ve experienced this summer, it’s obviously time to take a look at lake levels,” said County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan. “This resolution will set things in motion so we can make policy recommendations in the spring after receiving input from a variety of sources.”

The Dane County Board meeting begins at 7 p.m. Thursday in Room 201 of the City-County Building at 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in downtown Madison.   At 6 p.m. prior to the regular meeting, the Board will receive an update on the flooding and lake level management from the Dane County Land & Water Resources Department. Officials have initially estimated damage in excess of $78 million for residents and over $37 million to businesses, with only 2 percent of those damages insured.  The meeting will be broadcast via livestream and can be accessed here:  http://www.cityofmadison.com/citychannel/Details.cfm?Id=6295

The county is responsible for maintaining water levels for the four major lakes in Dane County:  Lake Mendota, Lake Monona, Lake Waubesa and Lake Kegonsa, mainly through operation of the Tenney Park Dam. But any permanent changes in lakes levels must be approved by the DNR. The current target range of keeping Lake Mendota water levels at 849.6 feet above sea level was set in 1979.

Supervisor Yogesh Chawla (District 6, near east Madison) said he has seen the effects of the flooding first-hand along the Yahara River and Lake Monona.

"This resolution will help Dane County bring our lakes down to their state allowed minimums in the short term,” he said. “It also provides a framework and timelines for a robust process to determine what the proper lake levels should be given a rapidly changing climate."

The resolution calls for the Land & Water Resources Department to prepare background material for the Lakes & Watershed Commission and the Environment Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee by immediately convening a technical work group that includes representation from the University of Wisconsin and other experts.

The group would evaluate conditions, model various scenarios that include predicted climate changes, identify short- and long-term recommendations to improve resiliency for future flooding events and make other recommendations that may include petitioning the DNR to change the permitted target range for lake levels.

Supervisor Chuck Erickson (District 13, near west Madison) serves on the Lakes & Watershed Commission and said he is looking for a long-term assessment of the situation.

“While lowering the lake levels is a good place to start, we need to closely review the impacts on the flow required to move water downstream and the impacts on the environment,” he said.

Also Thursday, the Board will view a presentation of "Minding the Gap: The Housing Crisis in Dane County."  Produced in conjunction with the Dane County Housing Initiative (DCHI), the video documents the challenges facing those who struggle to meet monthly rents despite working full-time or receiving retirement benefits including Social Security.

According to a recent report, over 22,000 low-income households in the county pay more than 30% percent of their income in rent. Another 12,000 very low-income households pay more than 50% of their income in rent, with 2,200 of those seniors.

To help close that gap, the board will consider providing $500,000 to developer Gorman & Company to assist with the “Grand Family” affordable workforce housing project at Union Corners. Located at 2507 Winnebago St. on Madison’s east side, those units are aimed at families or seniors caring for younger children.

In addition, the Board on Thursday will consider transferring $15,000 in unused funds from the Planning & Development Department budget to the County Clerk's Office to facilitate the completion and execution of the voter ID education plan.

 The goal of the campaign is to inform voters of the ID law, direct voters to the statewide helpline and/or microsite where they can get assistance or a ride to obtain an ID and promote a culture of voting.

The full meeting agenda is available at:

SPECIAL POST: Committee of the Whole Meeting with Lakes and Watershed Commission

2018 Flooding on lake monona

2018 Flooding on lake monona

On Thursday at 6pm there will be a Committee of the Whole meeting. This is a special meeting called by Board Chair Corrigan to inform the entire County Board of the status of the lakes, flooding, and the commission’s work. Supervisors will have the opportunity to ask questions of the commission. Please share this, and contact me if there are questions that you would like answered: buckingham.tanya@countyofdane.com, @tanmabuck (twitter), @SupervisorBuckingham (facebook).

In addition to this special meeting, there are plans to have meetings within communities that have been impacted by the flooding. Staff will be in attendance and you will be able to pose questions to them, and make your voice heard. As soon as that date is announced I will share it with you.

The Lakes and Watershed Commission has been invited to attend and ask questions of the presenter(s), agenda here.

Location: City-County Building, Room 201
You will be able to livestream the meeting here.

Time: Thursday, September 20, 2018, 6pm

Lakes & Watershed Commission has the following members:

Pam Porter - Chair
Lyle Updike - Vice Chair
Chuck Erickson - Supervisor, District 13
Dave Ripp - Supervisor, District 29
Mary Kolar - Supervisor, District 1
Maureen McCarville - Supervisor, District 22
Maria Moreno
Allan Levin
Rebecca Power
Susan West