Theodore Lipscomb
Press Release

Abele Raids Reserves in Attempted Budget Bail-Out

Uses About $20 Million to Cover Pension Error. And $4 Million for Bucks Arena

By - Oct 9th, 2015 09:23 am

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is engaging in “unsustainable spending” in his $1.37 billion 2016 Recommended Budget, using surplus funds and budget gimmicks to cover up this year’s $4 million payment toward the Bucks arena (that he unilaterally negotiated), and roughly $20 million for a pension error (that took place under his watch), Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb, Sr., said today.

Abele’s proposal would pay for those two ongoing expenses mainly using one-time funding from the County’s operating surplus.

“The County Executive has unilaterally committed taxpayers to pay $80 million over the next 20 years for the Bucks arena,” Lipscomb said. “Using part of the surplus to cover this year’s $4 million payment is fiscally reckless. What happens in the following years? Where will we get $4 million a year for the next 19 years? The deal he cut in Madison to fund the arena leads either to a 1.4 percent tax increase or cuts in services.

“Meanwhile, he is also using surplus funds to pay for a pension error of about $20 million that took place under his administration’s watch. He is engaging in unsustainable budgeting to cover a pension error his administration should have known about. We can’t assume massive surpluses in future years. His budget reflects wishful thinking in the future that simply is not realistic.”

Lipscomb said the County Board’s Finance, Personnel and Audit Committee will “take a hard look” at Abele’s budget during open public hearings.

The review by the committee begins today with an overview presented by the Comptroller’s Research Division.

“Raiding the surplus is not a sustainable budget strategy,” Lipscomb said. “He is relying on one-time funds and avoiding a long-term solution, which only makes for more difficult budgets in the future.”

The Finance, Personnel and Audit Committee will hold a public listening session on the proposed budget beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday, October 12 at the Washington Park Senior Center, 4420 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee.

The County Board’s annual public hearing will take place beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, November 2 at the Mitchell Park Conservatory (the Domes), 524 S. Layton Blvd.

The Board will consider adoption of the budget on November 9.

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One thought on “Abele Raids Reserves in Attempted Budget Bail-Out”

  1. Bob says:


    Theo, please. If anyone at the County allowed the pension error to happen on “his watch” it would be the County’s CFO, the Comptroller, who was familiar enough with the pension’s finances to advocate moving to the higher-cost pension calculations.

    But in fact nobody at the County deserves blame because the County hired the actuary to manage this stuff and they screwed up. Great attempt at casting blame but no dice.

    You are technically right about the use of one-time funds but you and your colleagues use these tricks every year. You used one-time funding from the Estabrook Dam demolition project and one-time debt premium revenues for on-going fringe benefit costs in the 2015 budget. You used contingency funds for ongoing employee raises this year. You approved a free ride program for seniors they didn’t ask for a picked a cost figure out of thin air. You voted to create a million dollar deficit in the Sheriff’s budget for command staff positions and then were SHOCKED when there was a deficit.

    Pot, meet kettle.

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