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.


Milwaukee County 2012 budget hearings, Day 6 (10/17/2011)

I took really extensive notes and participated in today’s session. So you might think that i’d have more typed up right now… but I took the notes the old-fashioned way—pen and paper. I’ll go off memory for the more interesting stuff.


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:

• Milwaukee County Transit/Paratransit System – Amendment approved 5-1 (No: Thomas) to increase the commuter value pass premiums by $6 per quarter

This would raise the cost to $201, if I am not mistaken.There was questioning of why the most dedicated riders would be stuck with the sole cost increase. Also, many paratransit riders and their advocates came to talk about how difficult a steep increase in the paratransit fare would be for them.

• Civil Air Patrol

• DOT – Airport

• DOT – Highway Division

• DOT – Transportation Services

• DOT – Fleet Management

• DOT – Director’s Office

• DAS – Facilities Management

I believe the county security guards fell under this segment. They are slated to be replaced by contracted security guars from Wackenhut Services. I made a request for information on the turnover rate of Wackenhut employees working in County facilities. There is a small chance that these jobs will not be privatized. But if we don’t do that, where would the projected $100,000 savings come from? As Supervisor Romo West noted, it seems that privatizations save money in the first year, but cost more in the second year and thereafter. I do want to see more than anecdotal evidence of this, and at the same time, I do not support the privatization of these or other jobs.

• DAS – Architectural, Engineering and Environmental Services

• DAS – Water Utility

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

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.



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.

Rallying for transit with other Milwaukee County Supervisors at Joint Finance hearing

I will be appearing with three future Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors colleagues at the State Legislatures Joint Finance Committee hearing. Here’s the announcement from Milwaukee County Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic, 4th District, Patricia Jursik, 8th District, and Jim “Luigi” Schmitt, 19th District:

For Immediate Release April 8, 2011
Contact: Harold Mester, Public Information Manager
414/278-4051 or


County residents invited to join Supervisors riding the bus to testify at public hearing

Milwaukee, WI – Milwaukee County Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic, Patricia Jursik and Jim “Luigi” Schmitt, along with Supervisor-Elect Jason Haas, are inviting residents to join a coalition of Supervisors, transit advocates, and members of ATU Local 998 riding the bus to a public hearing of the State Legislature‟s Joint Finance Committee Monday morning. The coalition plans to ask State lawmakers to “Save OUR Ride” and preserve funding for the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS), which continues to face a funding crisis. Despite 52% of Milwaukee County voters approving a referendum taking transit off the property tax, the State has not enacted a dedicated funding source.

“Unfortunately, the State Budget proposal includes a 10% cut to transit, which would lead to route cuts, longer transfer times, higher fares, and make it more difficult to create jobs or foster independence for disabled residents,” Supervisor Dimitrijevic said. “A healthy transit infrastructure is critical to our growth. Arbitrary cuts with no ability to increase local revenues could be a final blow to our transit system. We need to tell the Joint Finance Committee to support transit funding to Milwaukee County.”

“My colleagues and others are riding the bus Monday morning to show how important it is for us to have modern transit connections,” said Supervisor Michael Mayo, Sr., Chairman of the County Board‟s Transportation, Public Works & Transit Committee. “Transit connects workers with jobs, students with education, and retail with customers. We all must ‘Save OUR Ride’ to ensure a bright future.”

“I am particularly concerned about mass transit funding being shifted out of the transportation fund,” said Supervisor Jim “Luigi” Schmitt, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee. “This would force us to compete with all other services in the general fund.”

Transit supporters are invited to join Supervisors as they ride the bus to the public hearing at State Fair Park. The group will board the 8:26 a.m. departure of MCTS Freeway Flyer Route 44U from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee (UWM) at the corner of Hartford/Maryland. They will then ride to the Wisconsin State Fair Park Expo Center, 8200 W. Greenfield Avenue in West Allis. The bus is expected to arrive shortly before 9:00 a.m. Freeway Flyers could be cut unless action is taken to preserve State funding.

“Save OUR Ride” News Conference/Rally for transit funding 9:00 A.M. Monday, April 11, 2011 State Fair Park Expo Center 8200 W. Greenfield Avenue

Supporters riding from UWM:

Park in UWM Pavilion structure, Edgewood Ave. between Oakland and Downer. Walk to Hartford/Maryland.

Route 44U departs promptly at 8:26

Media and all other participants:

Supervisors will arrive on Route 44U near 84th/Greenfield by 9:00 a.m.

Joint Finance Committee Public Hearing is 10am – 6pm


Let me be clear that I stand with my colleagues. The new state budget spells dire trouble for transit. Without a dedicated source of funding, it has been ever-more difficult to find the funding to continue this vital service. If you want to fight unemployment, fund transit. If you want to fuel the economy, fund transit. To me, that is the only way to go.

MCF: Express Buses for Milwaukee County? Or less buses?

In a post on Milwaukee County First, I took a look at the ostensibly attractive idea of express buses that Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has been floating. While it looks good, and I’m flattered that Walker has taken one of my old campaign ideas, there’s a big price lurking under the shiny surface of his proposal. Primary among them is that the existing bus routes would probably be cut even further. While we do need the express routes with special traffic controls to let them through, we can’t do it and put the rest of the transit system on the altar to sacrifice.

[MCF] Help Us Save Transit, the Parks and EMS – Sign Our Petition

For many years, riders of the Milwaukee County Transit System has seen its routes get cut and the fares go up, as less and less money is available for it.  Once a standard for the nation, it has been in steady decline.  This year, it has been recommended by the current administration, contrary to all advice, to again slash routes by up to 40% and raise fares by charging a quarter for each transfer.  This will have a devastating effect on the local economy, not just of Milwaukee County, but for the entire southeast region of Wisconsin.

Likewise, the Milwaukee County Parks System has seen cuts for each of the past 27 years.  This year will be no different, except that it appears that the parks will suffer the most severe cuts yet.  Some of the options being considered by the current administration is closing ALL of the outdoor swimming pools, closing both community centers, and cutting maintenance at the senior centers.

Also being threatened is the money that Milwaukee County puts towards the Emergency Medical System.  Without this money being in the budget, there will be people in areas of Milwaukee County that will not receive paramedic services for medical emergencies.

Because of these growing concerns, the County Board repeatedly tried to get a referendum to the voters to see if they would approve of a sales tax increase to save these systems and give the voters relief on their property taxes.  But each time, County Executive Scott Walker blocked the people from having the right to express themselves.

Finally, in November 2008, the Board was able to put the referendum on the ballot.  The people spoke, and the referendum was approved.  Unfortunately, despite the hard work of community-minded groups like Quality of Life Alliance and others, the proposed sales tax was distorted during the budget process, and ultimately vetoed by Governor Jim Doyle.

Without this dedicated funding source, the situation in Milwaukee County will quickly become untenable.  That is why Milwaukee County First is asking you to join your voice to ours, and to the many others who also put Milwaukee County first, and are calling on Governor Doyle and the State Legislature to pass this sales tax, and to allow us to help ourselves before it is too late.

Please sign our petition:

and let those in Madison know that we will not quietly stand by and allow Milwaukee County to fall apart before our very eyes.  It will only take a few seconds to sign the petition, and we will do the rest.

After you have signed the petition, please pass the word to your family, your friends, your neighbors and your coworkers, and ask them to sign the petition as well.  Again the link to the petition is:

If we do this separately, we will be just whistling into the wind.  Together, we will create a voice that those in Madison will have to hear.