An examination of potential cost savings
Wisconsin has consistently ranked in the top five states regarding state and local tax burden for most of the last thirty years. High tax burdens serve as a disincentive for Wisconsin’s citizens to remain in the state and for attracting people from other states. With critical labor shortages in Wisconsin being a chronic problem during the 1990s, high taxes have become a recognized workforce policy issue. Reducing Wisconsin’s tax burden is one of Governor McCallum’s primary policy objectives. The Governor has stated numerous times that he wants to take Wisconsin “out of the top five” high-tax states and then “out of the top ten.”
To accomplish such a feat will require initiatives at not only the state level, but also at the local level. One idea that gets discussed intermittently is that of combining public services at the county level. For example, some municipalities are working to coordinate health and social services to reduce costs while maintaining an acceptable level of services.
Another local service that should be considered for economies of scale, efficiency of service, and quality of service is law enforcement. There are twenty-five law enforcement agencies in Dane County serving sixty governmental entities. The special police agencies, such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison Police and the Wisconsin Capitol Police, are included in this count. Federal law enforcement agencies residing in the county are not part of this study. This study analyzes the costs of law enforcement services in Dane County to determine potential cost savings from coordination and combination of law enforcement services in the county.
Local police departments have duplicate support services that could be leveraged to save precious resources for the county, cities, towns and villages of Dane County. Many local police departments have already combined some duties, such as emergency dispatch through the Dane County Public Safety Communications Center. However, several law enforcement entities still maintain their own dispatch centers, such as the Monona and University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Departments.
This paper assesses the current costs and potential savings that could be reaped if the county’s law enforcement agencies were to better coordinate their personnel and better cooperate in supplying services to Dane County’s communities and citizenry. All data are from the year 2000 unless otherwise noted.