Group unites in opposition to restructuring of Co. Board

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A group of African-American community leaders, including several Milwaukee County Supervisors united Monday, February 25th in opposition to a proposed state bill to that would essentially cut County Supervisors' pay by half, and the County Board's budget by two-thirds.

"To reduce the salary of the supervisor by an arbitrary number is really unjust. It takes full-time representation in order for those resources to be executed effectively," state Sen. Nikiya Harris said.

Harris is a former Milwaukee County Supervisor and now serves on the state Senate.

Chris Kliesmet says his organization, Citizens for Responsible Government, has been pushing for a part-time County Board for about 10 years.

"We've lost a number of the administrative and policy-making requirements of that job. The job has actually gotten easier," Kliesmet said.

Members of the group also said corporate interests are trying to get into County government. One sign cited the Greater Milwaukee Committee, or GMC, which supports the measure.

GMC spokesman Jason Field says the County Board won't lose its power if citizens approve the measure in referendum.

"The County Board of Supervisors will still have their abilities to do policy work, input on budgets, while it still maintains that the County Executive will manage day-to-day operations of Milwaukee County," Field said.

Minister Greg Lewis says he's concerned about limited access to a part-time supervisor.

"When I call him on the phone I want him to be there. I want him to be where I can find him -- not somewhere trying to make a living when his living should be working for me," Lewis said.

The bill calls for a binding referendum to make the changes to the County Board. The plan is to get it on the ballot in the spring of 2014.

Meanwhile, the County Board is making its own efforts to come up with a plan to reform the County Board.