Finance Committee Votes to Improve County Budget
Restores Funding for Public Safety and Rolls Back Use of Reserves
An amendment approved today by the County Board’s Committee on Finance, Personnel, and Audit would restore half of the massive $8 million cut to public safety recommended by the County Executive for next year. The amendment to invest in public safety services was authored by County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb, Sr., Committee Co-Chairs Willie Johnson, Jr. and James “Luigi” Schmitt, and Supervisors Gerry Broderick and Patricia Jursik. The motion was unanimously adopted.
“The poor negotiations of the County Executive unilaterally obligated Milwaukee County residents to pay $80 million to fund the Bucks sports arena, and the end result is a decrease of $4 million in state aid every year for the next 20 years, which has a ripple effect throughout the budget,” Lipscomb said. “The County Executive passed on next year’s cut to the Office of the Sheriff. Today the Committee cast a decisive vote to reverse that action and invest $4 million in public safety, restoring one-half of the cut to the Sheriff’s department recommended by the County Executive.”
The measure also documents how the County taxpayer is funding the $80 million contribution – $4 million a year for 20 years—to the Milwaukee Bucks sports arena that the County Executive put on the table and unilaterally committed residents to pay during his negotiations.
“The taxpayer contribution to the Milwaukee sports arena as negotiated by the County Executive should be plain to the public and not hidden in a budgetary shell game. Thanks to the Committee’s amendment, the taxpayer contribution is memorialized. A citizen now would be able to pick up a copy of the 2016 budget and future County budgets to see the taxpayer contribution to the Bucks arena resulting from negotiations led by the County Executive,” Lipscomb said.
The Committee also responded to criticisms it heard during public deliberations that the County Executive relied too heavily on the use of County reserves to balance the budget and to cover the multi-million dollar pension error that occurred under the watch of his administration.
The Committee approved a budget amendment to reduce that reliance on the debt service reserve fund and Chairman Lipscomb commented: “Our $4.4 million investment today in the overall fiscal health of Milwaukee County is more responsible than what the County Executive recommended and should be well regarded by those who rate the County’s finances.”
The Finance, Personnel, and Audit Committee is scheduled to hold a public meeting again on Wednesday to consider additional budget amendments. The annual public hearing on the 2016 Recommended Budget is being held by the County Board of Supervisors at 6:30 pm on November 2nd at the Mitchell Park Domes.