Fall is a busy time for Dane County executive Joe Parisi. He’s in the middle of preparing next year’s budget, so he spends a lot of time in meetings with department heads.
On Friday, Parisi meets with Lynn Green, head of the Dane County Human Services. “This is our weekly check in with Lynn, to see what’s going on,” Parisi says.
During budget time, the two often meet more frequently, and for good reason. More than half of the county budget goes towards human services. During the meeting, Green points out that one in six Dane County residents “is on some form of public assistance.”
Green gives a rundown of some of the programs the county operates, along with outcomes, for Parisi. The conversation is thick with acronyms that sound like gobbledygook soup to an outsider: ECI (Early Childhood Initiative), JFF (Joining Forces for Families), W-2 (Wisconsin Works), etc.
One of the things the two lament is that grant money is often made available for new programs, but once the program is up and running and successful, the grant money goes away.
“We get the funding to start it, it works, and then the grant money goes away,” Parisi says. “You’d hope success would be a good reason to continue funding.”
The meeting is a strategy session for how to sell successful programs to the County Board and the public for how to continue funding them. Green points out what data is available on each program.
Says Green: “Hopefully this info will help as you work the budget through.”
– Joe Tarr