Chris Abele pitches 2017 budget plan, calls it a “big departure” from previous budgets

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MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele pitched his 2017 budget to the Milwaukee County Board on Monday afternoon, October 3rd. Abele calls it a "big departure" from his past budgets. He is asking county supervisors for something he's never asked for before -- and the budget presentation Monday ended on a sour note.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele

The county executive told the board his newly proposed budget is one he would not have expected from himself five years ago -- in that it includes a tax increase.


Abele has proposed a new $60 per year vehicle registration fee or wheel tax. Abele said it is not his favorite solution -- but now one he supports in order to maintain bus routes and keep fares from increasing. He said it also preserves the GO Pass -- which is a most cost-effective pass for low-income seniors and people with disabilities.

Without the wheel tax, Abele said it is unlikely the Milwaukee County Transit System will ever be able to expand to benefit the city's surrounding areas.

"It is my favorite solution? No. It's the legal solution we have. (Without it), we will not be able to maintain what I think we can be proud of -- a five-year record of not increasing bus fares, not cutting routes," Abele said.


As for property tax bills, Abele said for the average homeowner, those will remain flat.

abele3"I don't relish the idea of the wheel tax. I just look at what cuts would need to be made to services particularly to people who need them the most," Abele said.

Abele wants to raise the minimum wage for county employees to $15/hour over five years.

Sherman Park

Sherman Park

His budget also calls for more money for employment programs in neighborhoods like Sherman Park -- where there was unrest in August in the wake of the fatal officer-involved shooting of Sylville Smith.

Abele is also calling for funding for emergency administration of Narcan in cases of opioid overdose.

"As you know, over Labor Day weekend, I think it was 12 overdose deaths," Abele said.

The meeting between Abele and the Milwaukee County Board ended on a sour note -- when Abele left after an hour for a meeting with the Milwaukee County Democratic Legislative Congress. His departure surprised and angered supervisors who had more questions.

Theo Lipscomb, Milwaukee County Board chairman

Theo Lipscomb, Milwaukee County Board chairman

"It's unfortunate that he left. He planned less than an hour of his time to present a $1 billion budget," Theo Lipscomb, Milwaukee County Board chairman said.

"This is a meeting that was set with them for several weeks. It was actually set prior to this meeting being called by the chairman," Melissa Baldauff, Abele's spokeswoman said.

Now begins a month of deliberation by the Milwaukee County Board.

The public will get a chance to give input on October 31st.


  • Always Outspoken

    Here’s a novel approach – if the transit system is operating at a loss, perhaps it SHOULD be cut back. Is it considered “too big to fail”? Why should it be subsidized by those who get absolutely no benefit from it?

    If ridership is waning, how about raising the fares? Or running smaller, less costly to run vehicles? Or running them less often? Why should there be empty buses clogging the streets?

    And what about eliminating the free rides? If it’s just taken for granted that those who own cars can afford to pay more to register them, why can’t the same be assumed for those who ride the bus?

    Chalk up one more attack on the working class by a rich democrat.

  • Huh !

    It looks as though you want people that own a car to pay for something they don’t use so you can give regular bus riders reduced rates ???
    The website indicates, Paper passes will cease to exist and riders will need to purchase a credit card type pass at less than the current paper rates !
    Does this mean, if a person that normally drives, needs to take the bus once, they can’t because they don’t have a card and if you do purchase a card…..won’t your actually being paying 3 times because you pay at a state, city and card purchase level ?
    Abele, do you use a city vehicle and/or get allowances or deductions for your vehicle registration ?
    What a scam…. I wish I was younger and could afford to move ;(

  • Frank B

    And let’s waste more tax money for employment programs. We don’t need more government programs. Look around you liberal knuckleheads! Everywhere I go I see places hiring! Some people just don’t want to work because government pays them not to. And once all entry level jobs are making $15 an hour, the middle class will be getting paid the same so we get screwed again! You people realize that $15 an hour for everyone will make things worse for everyone else because prices on every good and service will skyrocket Ridiculous that non bus riders are going to get stuck paying the bill for an inefficient and antiquated bus system.

  • Frank B

    Stop wasting tax payer money on narcan! If these idiots decide to take these drugs let’s stop wasting our resources in saving these people just so they can keep taking the drugs over and over and over. Darwinism

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