Milwaukee County 2012 budget hearings, Day 7 (10/24/2011)

The amount of activity on the county board appears to increase in direct proportion to the proximity of any meeting, and even more so as budget passage nears. Things are really picking up now, and we have about two weeks before our final budget-passing marathon meeting.

Here’s what the finance committee looked at today:

Milwaukee County Transit/Paratransit System
• Amendment approved 6-0 to conduct an audit of the Milwaukee County Paratransit program to focus on fraud prevention and quality of service issues as well as any other concerns identified in the courthouse of the audit.
[Over a dozen fraudsters were nabbed the last time this was performed!
• Amendment approved 5-1 (No: Schmitt) to increase Paratransit fares by $0.75 rather than the $1.25 recommended by the County Executive.
• Amendment approved 4-2 (No: Mayo, Schmitt) to have the Office of the Sheriff administer the current contract with G4S Wackenhut for security on transit buses and the $920,000 appropriation for these services is budgeted in the Office of the Sheriff. The Sheriff is requested to manage transit security services and recommend changes to improve effectiveness.
• Amendment approved 6-0 to include, beginning in June 2012, driver safety shield installation on all new Milwaukee County Transit System bus purchase specifications. Milwaukee County shall seek grant funding for the installation of safety shields for existing transit fleet vehicles. [Emphasis added.]
• Amendment approved 5-1 (No: Thomas) to continue a pilot program for designated stroller areas on transit buses. Additionally, MCTS will work with the Office of the Sheriff to enforce Chapter 63, in that no non-service animals or specified weapons are allowed on any transit fleet vehicles in order to maximize passenger/driver safety.

DAS – Facilities Management
• Amendment approved 6-0 to work with the Department of Audit to develop a method of collecting data on racial and gender breakdowns of all contractor employees working on Milwaukee County construction or maintenance projects.
• Amendment approved 3-2 (No: De Bruin, Schmitt) to employ County security employees at secure designated security facilities, with the cost partially offset with the elimination of the current security contract.
• Amendment approved 5-0 (Excused: Mayo) to eliminate the contribution to the debt service reserve, conduct a countywide comprehensive facilities plan, and increase the Appropriation for Contingencies.

Federated Library System
• Amendment approved 4-2 (No: Schmitt, Thomas) to restore the County’s 2012 tax levy contribution of $66,650 to the Federated Library System. [An increase of some $9,000 on the tax levy.]

• Amendment approved 6-0 to form a Workgroup to enter into discussions with the Hunger Task Force on the specifics of a lease arrangement that is beneficial to both parties. The proposed lease shall address all components of operating the farm and fish hatchery including, but not limited to, staffing, land utilization, commodity distribution and building maintenance and repair. [I co-sponsored this amendment.]
• Amendment approved 5-1 (No: Thomas) to increase seasonal parks staff hours from 366,683 to 411,446. [I’ll check on the tax levy implications of this.]
• Amendment approved 4-2 (No: Schmitt, Thomas) to deny the abolishment of 15 FTE Park Maintenance Worker in Charge positions and create 15 FTE Parks/Highway Maintenance Workers.

• • •

Tomorrow’s budget hearing will be on the county sheriff’s office and the  Behavioral Health Division. Also, I have my budget town hall at the Wilson Park Senior Center that night at 6:00.

Wednesday’s meeting is on Employee Fringe Benefits (which are often now worse than those at a private employer), Land Sales, and the Dept. of Administrative Services.

Thursday’s hearing will be for discussion of Finance and Audit Committee’s amendments and recommended tax levy, State Exempt Computer Aid, if necessary, and the Property Taxes Budget, as Amended.

Monday October 31 is the county board public hearing on the County Executive’s 2012 Recommended Budget. At this meeting, the public does all the speaking, and we listen. This will be at the Washington Park Senior Center, 4420 West Vliet Street.

The final Committee on Finance and Audit Budget Hearing will be on Wednesday, November 2, 2011, at 9:30 a.m.

Here’s the remaining 2012 budget schedule (PDF).

We meet on Monday, November 7 to hammer out the final version, and hopefully pass it before the day turns into night and the night into day. But even then, it’s not over! We meet again on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 1:30 p.m. for possible veto overrides. I guarantee you Abele is going to try to keep the budget as flat as Walker. We’ll see how it all turns out.


South Side meeting to discuss changes to MCTS Route 15

Let me quote the presse release:

Milwaukee County
Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic, 4th District
Supervisor Patricia Jursik, 8th District
Supervisor Jason Haas, 14th District

For Immediate Release October 17, 2011
Contact: Harold Mester, Public Information Manager
414/278-4051 or


Express Route 15 proposed for south side, south shore and airport area

Milwaukee, WI – Milwaukee County Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic, Patricia Jursik and Jason Haas will host an information session regarding the changes to Route 15 and the proposed express bus service included in the County Executive’s 2012 Recommended Budget.

The proposed Express Route 15 would impact Milwaukee’s south side, other south shore communities, and General Mitchell International Airport. The proposal also includes changes to the current Route 15.

In addition to the Supervisors, representatives from the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) will be on hand to present detailed information and answer questions from the public.

Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic, Patricia Jursik and Jason Haas

Information session on Route 15/proposed express bus service
Monday, October 24, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Bay View Library (accessible from MCTS Route 15)
2566 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue, Milwaukee


Route 15 is important to me. I ride the bus, along with tens of thousands of people. I want to make sure that they can continue to use it.

Mass transit meeting tomorrow 9/13 in Cudahy

My colleague Supervisor Pat Jursik and I will be hosting a pair of major South Side Community Meetings on the future of the MCTS transit system. We are facing major cuts to MCTS, so we need to hear from folks who depend on it, or know people that do.

Here are the details via our press release.

State cuts mean difficult decisions are ahead for policymakers in Milwaukee County

Milwaukee, WI – Milwaukee County Supervisors Patricia Jursik and Jason Haas will participate in two community meetings regarding the Milwaukee County Transit System.

“We are mobilizing to educate the public about the State’s draconian cuts to mass transit in Milwaukee County,” Supervisor Jursik said. “Transit means jobs. The economy is struggling to recover and people are out of work. A severe cut to the largest transit system in Wisconsin is the last thing the State should have done.”

“Because of these State cuts, the Milwaukee County Transit System has been forced to include major cuts in its budget request to County Executive Chris Abele,” Supervisor Haas said. “This community meeting aims to describe how these potential cuts could impact access to jobs and businesses on the South Side.”

Both Supervisors will be joined by representatives from the Milwaukee County Transit System and Transit Now.

Tuesday, September 13, 4:30 – 5:30 & 6:30 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.
Cudahy Library, Winter Garden Room
3500 Library Drive (accessible from MCTS Route 15)

The sessions are sponsored by the Gateway to Milwaukee, the South Suburban Chamber of Commerce, and Transit Now and co-sponsored by the Milwaukee Aging Consortium

Say Yes to Cheaper Fare for Milwaukee County Transit

I just came across this message from Milwaukee County Supervisor Patricia Jursik’s office. This proposition is laudable. It’s exactly the sort of move the County needs to take if it wants to save itself and its citizens from future years of gridlock amid ever-higher gas prices. I have an appointment on Monday morning, but urge friends of transit to attend the hearing and speak in favor of the motion.

Hello Transit Friends:

At a Special Meeting on Monday, July 21, at 10 a.m., the Milwaukee County Board’s Committee on Transportation, Public Works and Transit will consider a resolution to reduce bus fares, certain passes and tickets, and paratransit for the month of August ;

Item 2. A resolution by Supervisor Borkowski, authorizing and directing the Managing Director of the Milwaukee County Transit System to reduce Adult Cash fares to $1.00, Half Fare to $.50, Adult Passes to $8.50, Half Fare Tickets to $5.00, Premium Cash Fare to $1.75, Premium Tickets $14.50 and Paratransit to $2.00 for the month of August 2008 to provide relief from high gas prices and encourage transit usage within Milwaukee County. (Recommendation: Refer to County Board staff for a detailed analysis of the effects this will have on the overall County Budget.) [Link to PDF.]

This proposal could encourage riders to increase their frequency and introduce new people to the bus while reducing car trips and pollution. Imagine investing $1 to ride our great Route 15 and other routes in August!


Alexis Gassenhuber
Legislative Assistant to Supervisor Patricia Jursik, Milwaukee County’s 8th District

Update July 21: It seemed strange that I was agreeing with something Borkowski said. My gut reaction to this, aside from it being necessary, was to wonder how it would be paid for. (Amazingly, I do not blog every one of my thoughts.) Sure enough, the plan was “sidelined today on a 5-0 vote by the Milwaukee County Board’s transportation committee.” [JSO] It’s going to be very hard to pay for without a small sales tax increase.