Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Board Adopts 2023 County Budget

Board spent nearly 12 hours debating amendments, what passed?

By - Nov 11th, 2022 03:46 pm

Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Sulfur at English Wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Sulfur at English Wikipedia (GFDL) or (CC-BY-SA-3.0), via Wikimedia Commons

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors adopted a 2023 budget Thursday after spending nearly 12 hours reviewing amendments.

The board voted on and considered more than 70 amendments, including more than two dozen related to the Milwaukee County Sheriff‘s Office. It ended up adopting amendments that advanced or paused several parks projects, eliminated funding to rename a key county facility and restored a component of the Milwaukee County Transit System.

The amended $1.3 billion budget passed by the board decreased the $312 million property tax levy by approximately $125,000.

County Executive David Crowley can now sign the budget or issue partial vetoes. The board would need a two-thirds majority vote to override any veto.

Community Reintegration Center

The board voted to block funding for the county executive’s plan to change the name of the House of Correction to the Community Reintegration Center.

The amendment sponsored by supervisors Kathleen Vincent, Anthony Staskunas, Patti Logsdon, Steve Taylor, Deanna Alexander and Ryan Clancy removed $158,000 from the House of Correction budget. These funds would have been used for new staff uniforms, resident clothing, new signage and advertising.

Supervisors that voted for the amendment expressed that they thought the HOC should develop more programming focused on community reintegration before changing the name, and that the board should have been more involved in the process.

The HOC does have programming for the people incarcerated there running the gamut from work release programs to education. Sup. Willie Johnson, Jr. read an extended list of the programs offered at the facility from the floor.

Ultimately, the decision to rename the facility lies solely with the county executive. The board merely took away the funding for the rebranding.


An amendment authored by Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson and Sup. Liz Sumner restored funding for the paratransit taxi service to the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS). It also amended the budget narrative to direct the Milwaukee County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) to “work with stakeholders to explore the revival of Summerfest and other festival bus service.” The funding would come from expected health care cost savings.

Amendments passed by the board created two transit-related task forces. The first is an MCTS Safety Task Force to find a solution to concerns about driver and passenger safety on the buses. The second is a Paratransit Task Force, “To inform the decision of renewing the paratransit taxi program and other decisions related to accessible transit.”

Peter Burgelis, Nicholson and Clancy sponsored an amendment directing MCDOT, MCTS and the county’s Corporation Counsel to develop a “legally permissible plan” in 2023 for providing free bus rides to the polls during future elections.

Another Amendment sponsored by Burgelis directs MCDOT to join the Wisconsin Clean Cities Organization and request a fleet electrification study.


Milwaukee County Parks saw a boost in its overall budget, to the tune of $1.5 million. The department also saw supervisors go after the funding for expensive infrastructure projects in order to divide the funding up into a number of smaller infrastructure projects.

One amendment, sponsored by supervisors Shawn Rolland, Juan Miguel Martinez, Taylor, Alexander, Burgelis and Logsdon, took $1.8 million in funding for repairing the facade at the Charles Allis Art Museum, 1801 N. Prospect Ave., and plugged it into seven smaller infrastructure projects throughout the parks system: road repairs and roundabout replacement on Underwood Creek Parkway, new heaters for Cool Waters water park, a road replacement near the boat launch in Bender Park, Lyons Playground Reconstruction, walkway repairs in Noyes Park and funding for community outreach to patrons and nearby residents of Mitchell Park on the future of the park and the Domes.

Nicholson and Sumner’s amendment also set aside funding for one seasonal park ranger and one seasonal worker to staff Red Arrow Park five hours per day from May 1 to Sept. 30 to “supervise roller skating and prevent damage from unauthorized use.” It also put $1.3 million in an account that the parks department can tap into, pending board approval, for opening and staffing aquatic facilities, improvements to Mitchell or Koziuzsko Community Center, maintenance of critical infrastructure, seasonal staffing and community outreach.

Another amendment by Nicholson and Sup. Felesia Martin will create a summer concert series in the parks, or other community and cultural events.

County Detention Facilities

Clancy authored more than 30 amendments seeking to take funding away from the Milwaukee County Sheriff‘s Office. Nearly all failed.

One that passed took $15,000 and redirects it toward studying the necessary engineering and technology needed to implement in-person visitation at the Milwaukee County Jail.

As Urban Milwaukee has reported, the increasing number of children sent to state-run youth prisons along with the rising rate charged by the state is costing the county millions. As a result, the Department of Health and Human Services has faced a projected multimillion deficit for most of the year. To balance its budget, the agency cut a number of programs related to youth detention. An amendment sponsored by supervisors Clancy and Martinez would create a task force composed of children currently incarcerated in the county, and formerly incarcerated people to provide suggestions for ways to replace the programming that DHHS didn’t have the funding to continue.

In September, DHHS officials went to the county board seeking to send some children to the Racine County detention center when the county’s own Vel R. Philips Juvenile Justice Center was overcrowded. The board voted down the proposal. But an amendment successfully offered by Staskunas and Logsdon allows DHHS officials to pursue the policy the board previously voted down.

Omnibus Amendment

Clancy and Alexander, through a series of parliamentary moves and votes, disassembled several amendments passed by Finance Committee and reassembled them into a new amendment passed by the board in the final hour of the marathon meeting.

The amendment increased hourly pay for corrections officers at the HOC and the jail by $1.50 and 50 cents for Public Safety Officers. It took funding from a project to restore the McKinley Park Flushing Channel — one the parks department has been preparing years for — and allocated it to a project to repair the South Shore Breakwater, despite the funding not coming close to what will be needed for the breakwater.

It replaced $1.7 million in sales tax financing for upgrades to elevators in the Criminal Justice Facility with new county debt. It also eliminated a $1.9 million parking lot project for the MCSO training academy. The funds from these two projects were then split up among a number of smaller infrastructure projects in parks and senior centers across the county.

Lake Park Bluff

As Urban Milwaukee previously reported, a number of neighbors of Lake Park are seeking special land use rights to allow them to remove vegetation from a bluff in Lake Park.

The county’s attorneys strongly advised supervisors not to adopt the amendment given its broad and vague language granting these special land use privileges in perpetuity. But the board still voted to approve the project. Alexander, Clancy, Martinez, Logsdon, Rolland, Sumner, Vincent and Sequanna Taylor voted against the proposal.

Update: This story has been updated to reflect that the pay raise for correctional officers at both the House of Correction and the Jail is $1.50 and the raise for Public Safety Officers is 50 cents.

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Categories: MKE County, Politics, Weekly

One thought on “MKE County: Board Adopts 2023 County Budget”

  1. mkeumkenews09 says:

    Regarding the Lake Park bluff amendment – Disaster for Milwaukee County is underway.

    The County should not be in the business of turning property rights to the public’s properties, over to rich landowners.

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