By Judy Stadler

The Fitchburg 2022 Mayor’s Budget will be voted on by the Common Council November 9, 2021, starting at 7:30 pm, at the Fitchburg City Hall, 5520 Lacy Rd. Included in that budget will be $20,000 for solar panels to power one lift station. The Mayor’s Budget did not include a line item for $25,000 for a sustainability plan, despite the fact that the Planning and Zoning Department proposed such a plan and the Resource Conservation Commission expressed strong interest.

In view of that omission, Alder Gabriella Gerhardt, who is also a member of the Resource Conservation Commission, proposed an amendment (#10) to the 2022 budget to include $25,000 for the beginning phase of a city sustainability plan. Her Rationale for Amendment #10 was discussed at the October 27, 2021, meeting of the Committee of the Whole. As Alder Gerhardt stated:

A sustainability plan is essential as Fitchburg continues to grow and change. This funding allows the planning team to define the scope of this plan and begin the process of drafting the plan.

Sustainability planning will enable us to be more resilient to climate change impacts and costs. As part of the plan, we will research potential ordinance changes that will be essential as we expand the Urban Service Area. The plan will allow us to reap the full benefits of cost savings from sustainability initiatives and make the city more environmentally responsible within the city and regionally.

In his October 15, 2021, memo to Finance Director Misty Dodge, Fitchburg Sustainability Specialist Phil Grupe elaborated on Alder Gerhardt’s Rationale for Amendment #10:

A sustainability plan serves as a value statement, a guidebook and an analytical framework that documents a municipality’s principles, goals and progress in a cohesive manner…

Just within Dane County, no fewer than four nearby municipalities have a standalone sustainability plan, with at least one other neighbor including a dedicated sustainability chapter within their comprehensive plan. Fitchburg is the largest municipality in Dane County without a sustainability plan.

Context: Fitchburg’s 2019 Clean Energy Resolution (R-26-19) called for the city to “develop an energy and water plan that includes a resiliency/sustainability and adaptation plan to deal with anticipated changes associated with climate change.” Thus far the city has not developed this although the Resource Conservation Commission has expressed strong interest in this.

After the November 9 public hearing on the budget, the Common Council will vote on Amendment #10, other amendments, and the full budget. Anyone can comment on the budget in person or by zoom. Mayor Aaron Richardson has five days to veto line items or the entire budget. The Common Council then has the right to override any vetoes.

Fitchburg residents who wish to support Budget Amendment #10 allocating $25,000 for a city sustainability plan are urged to attend the November 9 meeting in person or to send an email to their alders, or to the mayor and the full council at Council&

Any questions? Contact Judy Stadler at