Abele vetoes more than two dozen items in Board-approved budget

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Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele fought back against property tax increases in the 2012 budget approved by the full County Board, by vetoing a $6 million tax increase, and putting back into place a $3 million bump in health care costs for county workers. Abele shot down Tuesday, more than two dozen amendments to the budget, put into place and passed by the County Board.

Abele's vetoes don't sit well with County Board Chairman Lee Holloway, who argues that the cost of not raising taxes is too painful for county employees to bear alone, with increased health care costs, and that the burden should be spread out.

"We would be paying the highest health share part of health care in the state of Wisconsin. What the County Board decided to do, would cost residents only $4 per property," Holloway said.

Without the tax increase, Abele's proposed cuts would be necessary to keep the budget in check. Other vetoes Tuesday included cutting more than $1 million given back to the Milwaukee County Sheriff's department, and eliminating nearly all of the emergency services subsidy for area fire departments.

"If we end up with another deficit, we're just building up debt. It's what happens if you just keep racking up the credit card - the problem gets worse. We've got to be responsible adults, and not just think about an election in April. We need to be thinking about one year, five years, ten years out: a sustainable county," Abele said.

The County Board could override Abele's vetoes by a two-thirds vote, or 13 "yes" votes Wednesday night, and it's likely to happen, as several of the Board's original amendments passed by more than what is needed for an override.