Milwaukee Budget Moves Forward, Changes Possible Until Friday

Laveta Brigham

MILWAUKEE COUNTY, WI— The Board of Supervisors adopted (14-4) the 2021 County budget Monday after approving several amendments that make additional investments in racial equity efforts, county parks, improved service delivery that will help improve the health of Milwaukee County residents. “This budget is the first in Milwaukee County history […]

MILWAUKEE COUNTY, WI— The Board of Supervisors adopted (14-4) the 2021 County budget Monday after approving several amendments that make additional investments in racial equity efforts, county parks, improved service delivery that will help improve the health of Milwaukee County residents.

“This budget is the first in Milwaukee County history to be guided by a plan for achieving
racial equity and improving the health of all Milwaukee County residents,” said Nicholson.
“Supervisors adopted numerous amendments that build upon County Executive David
Crowley’s foundational and historic budget by boosting efforts to achieve racial equity and
serve our most vulnerable neighbors, especially those affected by the pandemic. I thank
my colleagues for the extra effort they put into setting and adopting the 2021 budget, and
Supervisors Jason Haas in particular, for deftly guiding the Finance Committee through
this process for the first time as the Chair of that committee.”

The 2021 Adopted Budget sets the 2020 Milwaukee County property tax levy at $303,968,779
which is $724,169 less than what the County Executive proposed. This represents a .95%
increase over the 2020 levy of $301,109,336. Expenditures are set at $1,180526,340.

Among other changes, the Board approved an omnibus amendment from Chairwoman
Nicholson (1A020) that invests nearly $2.5 million in County parks and cultural amenities,
services for youth justice system-involved youth and senior citizens, combatting homelessness,
and the County’s federated library system, among other measures.

The Board also approved three amendments from Finance Committee Chair Haas: one to
explore the transition of the County’s fleet of vehicles to electric rather than gasoline power
(1A005); one to improve park safety with better lighting (1A016), and one to create two
positions (1A045) to help configure and deploy the Enterprise Platform Modernization project,
which will streamline and improve the efficiency of County procurement, payroll, financial, and
other services.

In addition to the adopted amendments from the Chairwoman and Supervisor Haas, the Board
also adopted amendments that would further advance racial equity goals, by encouraging the
Wisconsin Counties Association to adopt racial equity principles (1A001, Czarnezki), allowing
the families of youth justice system-involved youth to access programming designed to
maximize opportunities for success and integration into the community (1A032, Taylor), and by
analyzing the possibility of establishing a “Right to Counsel” program to provide legal counsel
for persons facing eviction or foreclosure (1A044, Clancy).

An amendment from Supervisor Weishan (1B005) would place funds for a local alternative to
Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake into a contingency account pending submission of a written plan
that details the scope of the project and the new location for the facility.

The Board adopted a few amendments that could potentially improve efficiency by requiring
reports on annual legal settlements and insurance costs (1A043, Clancy), mitigating increases in
airline rates at General Mitchell International and supporting a more efficient recovery of the
airport during the Coronavirus pandemic (1A003, Weishan), slowing funding for a new bus
route to the Amazon facility in Oak Creek (1A004, Wasserman), and exploring the development
of a consolidated mobile app to allow the public improved access to County services (1A011,
Czarnezki).

The Board also adopted several parks-related amendments, including to prohibit mid-year fee
increases in County parks (1A012, Weishan), facilitate the restoration of the baseball practice
field at Manitoba Park (1A015, Weishan), supplement seasonal Parks staffing needs (1A017 and
1A018, Czarnezki), advance an initiative to propagate hemp plant clones at the Mitchell Park
Domes greenhouses (1A025, Ortiz-Velez), promote ethnically diverse food offerings in County
parks (1A026, Wasserman), and conduct a sound study at The Rock Sports Complex (1A041,
Weishan).

Regarding personnel matters, the Board adopted an amendment to provide for a 1% increase
to airport employees (1A003, Weishan), to develop an easily accessible online “suggestions
form” for improving workplace safety during the Coronavirus pandemic (1A034, Czarnezki), to
create two new positions in the Office of Corporation Counsel (to address the large number of
guardianship and mental health cases assigned to the office) (1A038, Johnson, Jr.), and to
report and track excessive overtime (1A042, Clancy).

Supervisors John F. Weishan, Jr., Anthony Staskunas, Patti Logsdon, and Ryan Clancy voted
“No” on the Adopted Budget.

The Adopted Budget now goes to County Executive Crowley’s desk for his approval, who has
until Friday, November 13 to issue any vetoes. If the County Executive issues any vetoes, the
Board will convene on November 16.

This article originally appeared on the Milwaukee Patch

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