Eyes forward to the future in Milwaukee County

Milwaukee County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic had her vision for the future of the Milwaukee County government published  in the Sunday April 24 issue of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. As a friend of Marina’s and her colleague on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, I echo her call for cooperation and proactive governance. While the time ahead of us looks bleak, I think it holds great opportunities for improvement of our quality of life in Milwaukee County.

In her column, Supervisor Dimitrijevic focused on the need for mental health services, developing the Park East land, and increasing sustainability efforts at county facilities. All of these contain long-term cost savings, and the sustainable development bears with it paths to increased revenue. First, providing decent housing and community-based care will alleviate many of the costs of our antiquated mental health system that we are straining under.

Second, getting the Park East land developed would be a huge boon to our quality of life in mangy ways. In addition to new state and county revenue, having the barren land developed at last would revitalize a long-dead part of the city and the county, bringing people and money back into our communities. We all would benefit from the development, even if we live across the county from the land.

Tying into this is the drive towards sustainability which the county put into action through Supervisor Dimitrijevic’s Green Print plan. The legislation has already netted the county nearly $1 million in cost savings, savings which will continue to multiply in coming years. I will strive to expand those savings through innovative projects such as the creation of green roofs, even energy production at county facilities. This will be feasible through the smart public-private partnerships that I helped bring together at the Hide House Community Garden, which is helping revitalize a sleepy corner of Milwaukee’s South Side.

I also recognize  the need to create new sources of revenue. We can begin to do this through implementing my idea for a county “SuperPass,” which will generate tourism and save taxpayers money at the same time. With a SuperPass, you and your friends and family could visit and enjoy our many county attractions with ease. With more people using the facilities again, our quality of life will improve. It becomes a win-win situation rather than a zero-sum game.

The new leadership we have gained in Milwaukee County over the past several years will make it possible for us to overcome the county’s inertia and begin moving forward once again. While it may not be easy, we will work actively to improve our situation. Since I joined the county government three weeks ago, I have meet many talented individuals within the county government who share this goal. Likewise, I have sensed a new willingness to overcome inertia, work together, and improve our quality of life. This is precisely what Supervisor Dimitrijevic has called for. I think it can be done, and we will make it happen.

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Author: Jason Haas

Jason is an elected member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, occasionally moonlights as an amateur gardener, and is a proud father of two, or three, depending on how you do the math.