Milwaukee County 2012 budget hearings, Day 4

Here is the customary summary from Board spokesman Harold Mester. My comments are in [brackets]. I’ll add my notes in detail later. (Done.)


Milwaukee, WI – The Milwaukee County Board’s Finance & Audit Committee is holding a series of public meetings throughout October on the County Executive’s 2012 Recommended Budget. Each day, the Committee reviews a number of specific departments and items in the budget.

Today, the Committee reviewed the following budgets:

• DHHS – Behavioral Health Division – Amendment approved 6-0 to keep any BHD savings within the BHD budget, rather than reprogramming for other community initiatives. Amendments on paramedics funding were laid over until a future meeting.

[This summary betrays the length of the discussion on this item, which was a lengthy discussion and debate. I noted that Supervisor de Bruin spoke in favor of moving mental health services from the sheriff’s control to BHD (Behavioral Health Division), which actually treats mental illnesses. As the supervisor noted, mental health is not the jail’s purvey.]

[I noted that budget item 6300 – Department of Health and Human Services – Behavioral Health Division contains “Realign Detox Funding,” which proposes to move detox from a “medial” operation to a “social model,” and would “utilize a nationally recognized patient placement model for care.” Supervisors de Bruin and Romo West both spoke very highly of this approach.]

• Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) – Amendment approved 6-0 to increase Potawatomi revenue to match the City of Milwaukee and allocate $100,000 in Potawatomi Revenue (rather than tax levy) to the Safe Alternatives for Youth program and restore budget narrative for the Safe Alternatives for Youth program to the Department of Health & Human Services-Delinquency and Court Services Division budget.

[Supervisor Romo West had an amendment on this item, but withdrew it.]

• Department on Aging – Amendment approved 6-0 to abolish one Accountant 1 instead of one Accountant 3.

• Department on Family Care

The Committee will continue its review of budgets and consideration of amendments throughout October in Room 203-R of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

The County Board of Supervisors, under the leadership of Chairman Lee Holloway, will adopt the 2012 Budget on Monday, November 7 at 8:30 a.m. in Room 200 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

Click here to access the 2012 budget meeting schedule
Click here to listen to live audio from the meetings(available while meetings are in progress)
Click here to access the Budget Overview presented by County Board Staff 

The County Board’s annual Public Hearing on the 2012 Budget is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Monday, October 31 at the Washington Park Senior Center, located at 4420 W. Vliet Street in Milwaukee.



Milwaukee County 2012 budget hearings, Day 3

Today, the Committee reviewed the following budgets:

• County Board
• County Board – Department of Audit
• County Board – Office of Community Business Development Partners
• County Executive – General Office
• County Executive – Veterans Service Office
• District Attorney
• Department of Child Support Services
• Medical Examiner – Amendment approved 5-0 (Excused: Thomas) to increase professional Services contracting for forensic lab oversight by $15,000 to $90,000, offset by a revenue increase of $15,000 in medical service fees
• Combined Court Related Operations – Amendment approved 4-2 (No: De Bruin, Thomas) to deny the transfer of the Courts’ Human Resources Manager to the Department of Human Resources
• Courts-Pre-Trial Services
• Sheriff

I may add my notes on today’s meeting later. I’ve got a lot of other work to do yet tonight.

Milwaukee County 2012 budget hearings Day 2

The second day of the budget hearings came and went today. In addition to the six members of the Finance Committee — please note that there are exactly six members — I was joined by Supervisor Pat Jursik, herself a Finance Committee member until Chairman Lee Holloway kicked her off the committee for some reason. No one has been appointed to take her place. Jursik has acted as a shadow cabinet, advising the committee on matters, often providing a valuable insight into the probable legality of the item currently being debated. The importance of this will reveal itself in my notes on the day’s action.

The following notes came from the County Board’s spokesman Harold Mester. My additions are in [brackets.]

Today, the Committee reviewed the following budgets:

• Federated Library System
• County Historical Society
• War Memorial Center

[This item generated a lot of discussion. The War Memorial Corporation provides a large amount of funding to the Milwaukee Art Museum, and their relationship is not totally clear to me at this time. We’ll hear more about this. Also: Supervisor John Weishan, Jr., introduced a motion to reduce direct funding of the Milwaukee Art Museum from $212,500 to $100,000, with the difference of $112,500 to be retained by the War Memorial Center for general operations. The amendment was laid over.]

• Charles Allis/Villa Terrace Museums
• Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

[All of the above entities are slated to get a 15% budget cut.]

• Milwaukee County Funds for the Arts (CAMPAC) – Amendment approved 6-0 to restore 85% of the funds that had been cut by the County Executive

[In a very surprising move, the County Executive had zeroed out funding for CAMPAC, which provides funding for almost 40 arts groups in the County. The amendment was by Supervisor Broderick. Supervisor Jurisk and I co-sponsored it. It would draw $321,035 from the tax levy, which is a 15% decrease from the 2011 funding of $321,035.]
• University Extension Service

[Their budget allotment is unchanged from 2011.]

• Milwaukee Public Museum

[Their budget allotment is unchanged from 2011.]

• Zoological Department

[We’ll hear more about the Zoo later in the budget process.]

• Parks Department – Amendment approved 6-0 to provide $50,000 for parks cultural events programming which had previously been budgeted in the CAMPAC budget

[This amendment was by Supervisor De Bruin. It passed unanimously.]

I find it curious that this is the only amendment that is listed. There was another amendment, which I’ll get to in a moment, for this is a perfect time to talk about funding for the Milwaukee County Park System.

Most of the attention on this budget has gone to the proposed cuts to the office of the sheriff. What is getting little to no attention at all is the proposed $3,472,462 cut to the County Parks System. Look at that again: three million, four-hundred and seventy-two thousand, four-hundred and sixty-two dollars. That’s a big number, and it translates to job cuts for seasonal park workers. As someone testified during the meeting, these “seasonal” workers actually work for ten months of the year with the understanding that they will be laid off and then rehired a month later. These are the people that do much of the basic maintenance services for the parks, such as lawn cutting and litter pickup. As it’s proposed, their hours would be significantly reduced. Think your neighborhood park is in bad shape now? Well, if this budget passed as is, it would get a lot worse.

Now, remember that other amendment? Amendment 1A 003, for Org Unit No. 9000, Parks, Recreation and Culture, by Supervisor Broderick. The amendement would have increased staff hours from 366,683 to 456,123. This was in direct response to this passage within the proposed budget, on page 9000 – 5, wherein is stated, “The 2011 Adopted Budget included a request for 456,123 seasonal work hours. The 2012 Budget reduces the seasonal staff by 43.0 FTE [full time employees; emphasis added] reducing the number of seasonal hours available to 366,683 or near average. This results in a total savings of $999,010.”

Supervisor Mayo attempted to lay this amendment over, citing the need to see how the whole budget would look the Parks staff levels. A motion to layover takes precedent, so after a short debate, the vote was taken: three ayes, three noes. In the county board, a tied vote equals a failed vote, so the motion failed.

Immediately following that was a move to approve. Care to guess how that went?  Three ayes, three noes. The motion failed.

This dysfunction is a result of there only being six supervisors on the finance committee instead of the required seven.

• • •

Supervisor Romo West introduced a budget amendment that would grant “complete oversight the farm and fish hatchery” down in Franklin to the Hunger Task Force.

Here are some relevant passages from the proposed budget about the county farm and fish hatchery:

Page 9000 – 3: “The Hunger Task Force is the lessee on the property that plants and harvests fruits and vegetables for its Stock Box Program. The Parks Fish Hatchery Specialist raises fish to stock the ponds and lagoons throughout the parks. Over 40,000 fish are stocked each year [throughout the County Parks System] and this coincides with several free fishing clinics for Children.” [Emphasis added.]

Page 9000 – 5: “The 2012 Budget begins the transition for the closure of the Fish Hatchery. [Emphasis added.] The fish that are harvested remain at the Fish Hatchery for 3 years prior to being released into the County ponds and lagoons. In 2012, after the ponds and lagoons are stocked in spring, no additional fish will be added to the Fish Hatchery. The full closure would not occur until all fish currently at the Hatchery are released in the spring of 2014. There are no anticipated savings in 2012. After full closure of the facility in 2014 the County would begin to see annual tax levy savings of approximately $150,000. […] The Parks Department is authorized and directed to seek out potential entities that would be interested in assuming full responsibility for the Fish Hatchery operations from the County prior to the closure in 2014.”

Supervisor Romo West’s budget amendment would grant all operation and maintenance of the fish farm to Hunger Task Force. After Supervisor Jursik raised some fair points about the possible ramifications of handing over an asset for the long term (HTF would run the operation for 25 years), Supervisor Romo West made a motion to lay over the amendment. The motion passed 6-0.

Lotta stuff got done. Frustratingly, some didn’t. I’m glad that we passed the funding for CAMPAC, but it will remain to be seen how that plays ouf in the final budget and vetoes.

Tomorrow we will be working on the sheriff’s budget. Should be interesting!

Day 1 of Milwaukee County 2012 budget hearings

Today was the first meeting on the 2012 budget by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors Finance & Audit Committee. This intrepid group of seven six county supervisors, more commonly referred to as the Finance Committee, or just “Finance,” is entrusted with leading us through the dissection of the proposed 2012 county budget. If you don’t want to read through the whole, check out the excellent Budget Overview that was written by the County Board Staff.

I have to say that this budget is better than Walker’s budgets, in that there aren’t tricks being played, such as including a $9 million land sale—a sale that has not actually happened, and whose chances are slim to none. But the figure from this “sale” would be used to help balance the budget. The immediate problem with doing that is when the fictitious capital from the hypothetical land sale is removed from the budget, that left a nine million dollar hole in the budget. And the supervisors would have to figure out where the money to fill the hole would come from.

That was what Scott Walker did in many of his budgets.  (What ever happened to that Walker kid, anyway? Do you recall?*)


County Executive Chris Abele is betting the house on a big federal grant coming in to save transit for the next two or three years. I hope we get it, as I don’t want to lose bus service to the extent that the state has striven forced on us. We probably won’t know if we’ve gotten the grant until much later this month.

So then, in today’s session, we went through the following items:

• Human Resource and Payroll System
• State Shared Taxes
• County Sales Tax Revenue
• Power Plant Revenue
• Surplus (or Deficit) from Prior Year
• Offset to Internal Service Charges
• Charges to Other County Organization Units
• Potawatomi Revenue
• Appropriation for Contingencies
• Capital Outlay/Depreciation Contra
• General County Debt Issue
• Debt Issue Expense
• County Treasurer
• Earnings on Investments
• Unclaimed Money
• Other Miscellaneous Revenue
• Investment Advisory Services
• Election Commission

Pretty good for one session’s work.

If you’re curious and want to attend, the Committee meetings are in Room 203-R of the Milwaukee County Courthouse. Here’s the meeting schedule.

If you’re not able to attend, you can listen to the meetings as they are in session.

I made it through the first day fairly unscathed. Here’s to the next one!

Results from 29 Sept 2011 Milwaukee County Board meeting

As published by the County. The numbers (e.g. 4-15) are the votes on each item. There are currently 19 supervisors, so you need 10 votes to pass an item.

Also, we received the proposed 2012 budget from County Executive Abele today. We have begun digesting it to find where the cuts and changes will be.

• • •


• 4-15 to approve (Yes: Borkowski, Cesarz, Rice, Sanfelippo) (motion fails) to reform the role of the County Board of Supervisors and legislative operations beginning in the 2012 term of office.

• 17-1-1 (No: Mayo, Abstain: Sanfelippo) to execute a contract extension with United Healthcare for Third Party Administrative services for Milwaukee County’s medical plan effective January 1, 2012.

• 18-1 (No: Mayo) to express official intent regarding certain capital expenditures to be reimbursed from the proceeds of an obligation.

• 18-1 (No: Biddle) to pay $125,000 to claimants and their attorney in return for mutual releases of all potential claims related to the care given to Ms. Anczak.

• 17-2 (No: Borkowski, Cesarz) to negotiate an agreement to fund an artistic bus shelter with the Bay View Business Improvement District.

• 18-1 (No: Rice) to amend the Development Agreement for Block 26 in the Park East Corridor.

• 18-1 (No: Weishan) to approve an amendment to the Development Agreement for UWM Innovation Park.

• 13-6 (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, Lipscomb, Rice, Sanfelippo, Schmitt) to support a change in State law to increase the age in which a person is eligible to have his/her record of conviction expunged and ensuring expunged criminal records are not released to the general public.

• 10-9 (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, Harris, Johnson, Jursik, Rice, Romo West, Sanfelippo, Schmitt) to approve a resolution providing for an advisory referendum on the plan by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District to pay approximately $41.1 million to the City of Franklin for the costs related to building the Ryan Creek Interceptor project.

• 9-10 (No: Borkowski, Cesarz, De Bruin, Harris, Johnson, Jursik, Rice, Romo West, Sanfelippo, Schmitt) to withdraw from Committee (motion fails) a resolution opposing the plan by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District to pay approximately $41.1 million to the City of Franklin for the costs related to building the Ryan Creek Interceptor project.

All other items on today’s agenda were approved with no objection.  The complete digest agenda from today’s meeting can be found on the County Legislative Information Center:

The next meeting of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisor is the public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, October 31, 2011, at the Washington Park Senior Center, 4420 W. Vliet Street in Milwaukee.

The next regular meeting will be Thursday, November 3, 2011, at 9:30 a.m. in Room 200 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.


The busy life of a full-time sup

Working in and about on this beautiful September day showed me a few times why I love living here in Milwaukee. Something about the air in this month, perhaps the angle that the sun is at as its light passes through the sky. It’s autumn, and i love it.

Working with community groups has been one of the most pleasurable parts of my job. Airport Gardens Neighborhood Association (AGNA) has been a great group to work with. This group has been very interested in working with me to improve the neighborhood, which is our shared interest.

I now have two neighborhoods interested in starting “Friends of [so and so] Park,” and found some great improvements we can make at the Easter Seals building in Holler Park, among other great ideas we had for that park. (Know any Eagle Scouts interested in a cool project involving a solar water heater?)

Tonight was the Airport Gardens Neighborhood Association meeting, at which I had the pleasure of having my one-year-old son with me. People like having a cute baby around, so long as the babe doesn’t make too much noise. And when they do, that’s when we leave.

My County Committee assignments

Chairman Holloway has released the new committee assignments for members of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors following the election of myself and Eyon Biddle to the board.

I’m pretty psyched about my county committee assignments. They are ParksTransit, and Personnel. Here’s info on each of them:

Parks, Energy and Environment

Meets at 9:00 A.M. on the 2nd Tuesday before the County Board Meeting

All matters concerning county parks and parkways are the responsibility of this Committee.  Members set policy for the parks department, organized recreation, cultural activities, the University Extension program, the Environmental Services Division of the Department of Public Works and Zoo park services.  Members have jurisdiction over matters concerning the conservation of all uses of energy and make recommendations relating to conservation of air, water, energy and all other resources.


Meets at 9:00 A.M. on the 1st Friday before the County Board Meeting

Employee relations, including collective bargaining, reclassification, compensation and conditions of employment of County personnel and officers are handled by this Committee.  Members set policy for the Civil Service Commission and administer the county Employee Merit Award program.

Transportation, Public Works and Transit

Meets at 9:00 A.M. on the 3rd Wednesday before the County Board Meeting

The mission of the Department of Public Works, including the construction and maintenance of county highways, bridges and public structures are the responsibility of this Committee.  Members discuss all matters pertaining to the policy of mass transit and the Milwaukee County Transit System, including fares, service routes and capital improvements.  The Committee discusses all matters under its jurisdiction pertaining to railroads and public utilities in the county.

Remarkably, the Chairman named me as Vice Chair of the Parks Committee. I’m honored to receive this vice-chair positon, and will strive to improve our parks and transit systems. During the campaign, I told voters I would strive for Clean Parks, Better Transit, and Safer Communities. With these committee assignments, I will work for all of those. And, while I’m at it, a little bit more.

Thanks again to the voters who chose me as their representative. I will do my best for you!