County Panel Refuses Move Toward Transparency
Committee Will Not Provide Public Notice of Budgetary Changes
MILWAUKEE—After witnessing four years of confusion and frustration with the County’s budgeting process amongst County Supervisors, workers, and members of the public at large, Milwaukee County Supervisor Deanna Alexander today proposed a positive change in the interest of transparency: allowing the public to see budget amendments prior to a final committee vote.
Alexander appeared before the County Board’s Finance and Audit Committee today to present the ordinance change, which would have set a new process for considering budget amendments. In the interest of public transparency, Alexander asked the committee to abandon its outdated process of voting on amendments just moments after they are publicly presented, and to instead publish amendments the County’s public website by 6:00 p.m. the evening before they are to be voted on.
“Our government owes it to the public we represent to be transparent. When we’re talking about our treasured parks, our highways, public safety, people’s livelihoods, and the taxes our residents pay, we have an obligation to let people know what kind of changes we are going to vote on, more than five minutes before that vote takes place,” said Supervisor Alexander.
Today’s committee denied the proposal. One official claimed that Milwaukee County is already supremely transparent and took offense to the notion that improvements could be made. Another concern was that by establishing a process for providing the public more notice and insight to the workings of county government, the Board would open itself up to a lawsuit if or when it would refuse to comply with policy.
“I’m disappointed that the committee did not even care about fixing our broken system enough to send this proposal to the full board for a vote. It seems that the committee intends to resist change and continue on with a budgetary process largely removed from public consideration,” said Alexander.
The motion to lay file 16-515 over to the call of the chair, creating an indefinite postponement for consideration was unanimous. Vote: 7-0 (Aye: Mayo, West, Wasserman, Johnson, Haas, Moore Omokunde, Taylor (2nd District). No: None.) The full County Board will not consider the proposal.
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