Is it Time for Milwaukee to Consider a Combined City-County Government?
Nobody argues this will be a quick, or easy change, but it seems to me that the benefits outweigh the costs. Municipal government plays a vital role and provides necessary services, but sometimes you can have too much, or in this case too many.
Improving our mass transit system in Southeast Wisconsin has also been a victim of this problem and in this case it has been a problem for decades. Go back to the 90’s when Milwaukee received hundreds of millions of dollars for new mass transit initiatives, and realize that only $91.5 million of those dollars are still sitting in a bank account almost twenty years later. It’s clear from looking at the votes in recent times that having two levels of government, again with two diverging goals, has lead to this stalemate. The City of Milwaukee has worked to bring rail projects that would spur development in the core and connect to the region, while Milwaukee County has worked to protect its interests, primarily the Milwaukee County Transit System. What is clear is that $91.5 million would have been spent on some sort of transit project, be it a combined streetcar and express bus solution, or an all express bus solution, but something would have been done.
Of course there are the issues that would have to be resolved such as the boundary lines, how to handle the county’s pension fund issues, the possibility of layoffs, and so on, but it is time to investigate the possibility of eliminating a level of government, because this could actually bring about swifter more efficient action for our community.