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“A significant compromise:” County Executive Chris Abele announces County Budget vetoes

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele has announced his vetoes of the County Board’s changes to his 2015 Budget. As part of a significant compromise with supervisors, County Executive Abele approved the majority of the Board’s 59 amendments and, through the veto process, he is proposing compromises that will improve services and lower property taxes.

“The budget I am returning to the County Board strikes a significant compromise while also improving services, lowering taxes by $2,268,565 million and avoiding a significant increase in our debt and structural deficit. If the supervisors sustain my vetoes, the 2015 Adopted Budget will put Milwaukee County in a stronger and more sustainable position next year and in future years," Abele said.

County Executive Abele’s 2015 Recommended Budget improves services like mental health care, transit and public safety while also strengthening our fiscal position for the million residents we serve and the County’s 4,000 employees. The $1.3 billion budget will greatly update and improve the County’s infrastructure, realign service models and centralize various functions that are currently spread out across the County.

“I appreciate that the Board left many of our initiatives and policies in place, including the creation of the Emergency Management Office, centralized IT and Procurement, increased Debt Service Fund, new safety-net housing services and supportive housing and new public safety efforts in the District Attorney’s Office. As they did in approving those programs, I hope Board members carefully consider each of these vetoes,” Abele said.

Highlights of the vetoes include:

  • The addition of five new, fully funded Sheriff’s deputies, in addition to the 11 new deputies that were included in the County Executive’s Recommended Budget.
  • The elimination of positions added to the Sheriff’s Office by the board through amendments that the Sheriff has stated will create a structural deficit.
  • Keeping in $1.3 million to match contributions employee’s put into their health care savings accounts while also rejecting a $2.2 million tax increase to pay for lower than normal healthcare premiums.
  • Asking the Board to consider the future of the Estabrook Dam on its own merits, rather than tying it to funding for unrelated items like employee healthcare.
  • Preserving the Board’s funding of $660,000 for new and expanded transit service to job sites while cutting an unneeded new program that is expected to cost as much as $3 million a year.
  • Eliminating new debt obligations by $16.4 million and, instead, continue County Executive Abele’s practice of using cash and non-bonding revenue to pay for repair projects, a practice that avoids paying interest and frees up more money in future years.

“We all agree on being aggressive in addressing deferred maintenance in parks and across the County. The projects we do with cash, rather than borrowing, don’t increase our debt and free up more money in future years. That is why our budget sticks to the County’s very prudent bonding cap, but includes $15.8 million in cash financing, including $5 million MORE than the County goal of paying for projects with cash. In the last four years, precisely because I agree we need to catch up on deferred maintenance, I have put $20 million in cash financing above and beyond the County target into projects,” Abele said.

A full list of the vetoes and statements can be found here.

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