County Executive Chris Abele
Press Release

County Executive Abele Proposes Elimination of “Pay to Park” Program

You spoke, County Executive Abele listened

By - Feb 13th, 2018 11:00 am
Lake Park. Photo by Dave Reid.

Lake Park. Photo by Dave Reid.

MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is proposing to cancel the Pay to Park program included in the approved 2018 Budget. Instead he is asking the County Board to fill the $1.6 million shortfall in the Parks Department budget via a one-time draw from the County’s contingency “rainy day” fund.

“We asked for public input in order to better understand how people feel about this new dedicated revenue stream to support the parks system. I said from the beginning that charging for parking in the parks is not something that I would ever want to do, but we felt it was preferable to yet more cuts to our already strained Parks system,” said Abele.  “Given the outpouring of feedback we’ve received, I am pleased that we will be able to avoid charging visitors from paying to park their vehicles this year. But we should be very clear that this is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.”

The Pay to Park Plan – approved 15-3 by the County Board – was proposed in order to prevent drastic service cuts or fee increases elsewhere in the Parks system. After receiving much thoughtful input from the community, including from the public comment session held last week at the Mitchell Park Domes, County Executive Abele focused on finding alternative solutions. He directed his budget team to explore ways to avoid Pay to Park, and they identified three possible approaches:

1.      Cut $1.6 million in expenses elsewhere in the Parks budget. Taking this approach would have meant closing the Domes, Boerner Botanical Gardens, Wehr Nature Center, and Community Centers.
2.      Increase the Vehicle Registration Fee by approximately $5 per year.
3.      Draw money from the contingency fund. The contingency fund is the County’s only “rainy day” fund and is meant to be used only for emergency purposes.

“Our parks make Milwaukee County a truly remarkable community, and it’s essential that we all work together to ensure they are protected for our children and generations to come. If confirmed, I plan to work closely with the County Board to find solutions to this intractable problem,” said Jim Sullivan, interim Parks Director.

In the absence of any great solutions, County Executive Abele is asking the Board for this temporary “fix” which will give the County a chance to plan for alternatives in next year’s budget.

More about the Pay To Park Controversy

Mentioned in This Press Release

Recent Press Releases by County Executive Chris Abele

Abele, Lipscomb Announce Membership of Fair Deal Workgroup

Group includes diverse representation from community leaders seeking to recommend intergovernmental solutions to County funding challenges

Abele Signs 2019 Milwaukee County Budget

Collaboration-fueled budget process results in $1.19 billion framework for delivering County services; Abele emphasizes need for continued collaboration toward state-funding solutions

From Vision to Pitch to ‘Yummy Care’: Milwaukee County Pilots BOSS Program to Help Build Entrepreneurial Skills, Career Paths for Students

Five high school students saw their winning business plan brought to life this week at Mitchell Airport

One thought on “County Executive Abele Proposes Elimination of “Pay to Park” Program”

  1. tom says:

    How refreshing for a politician to hold public hearing and react based on public input. I think paying to park at county parks should be the last funding option. MKE county parks parking should remain free and accessible to all. I’m all for options 2 or 3 on the list.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us