2016 budget: Milwaukee Co. Exec. Chris Abele delivers proposed $1.375B spending plan

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MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele delivered an address on his proposed 2016 budget on Wednesday morning, September 30th.

"Milwaukee must do right by our employees, and do so in a sustainable way," said Abele.

Abele says his $1.375 billion budget proposal makes a nearly $8 million investment in the county’s staff, with a 2.5 percent pay increase over the 2015 budget for employees, $2.5 million for the compensation system change that will result in hundreds of raises for front-line workers, and a new $300,000 tuition reimbursement program.

Abele says this investment extends to include limiting employee expenses.

Chris Abele presents proposed 2016 county budget

Chris Abele presents proposed 2016 county budget

"In this year's budget, health care costs to employees won't increase. Premiums, deductibles, co-pays -- all stay the same," said Abele.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, Theo Lipscomb, says the county executive's event on Wednesday was unusual in that it comes prior to the board's receipt of the proposed budget -- which is scheduled for Thursday, October 1st.

Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theo Lipscomb

Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theo Lipscomb

"We've certainly had calls, and people who stopped in here thinking it was here today or who've called, saying 'what are these two different events?'" said Lipscomb.

Lipscomb also questions Abele's choice to host the event within the walls of Milwaukee's Pritzlaff Building.

"The location that was chosen seems to blur the lines between the county executive's official capacity and his private investments, because he has businesses located there," said Lipscomb.

Again, Abele is scheduled to deliver the official presentation of his 2016 proposed budget to the full county board on Thursday.

Other highlights of County Executive Abele’s budget proposal include:

  • Addition of nearly 20,000 new bus miles, while holding fares flat. Resources for investigation and planning for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).
  • A funding increase for the District Attorney’s office to add two Victim Witness Advocates dedicated to sensitive crimes and child protection advocacy and expand the Public Integrity Unit.
  • Addition of four new positions for homeless outreach, part of the County Executive’s Plan to End Chronic Homelessness in Milwaukee.
  • A significant investment into making mental health services more accessible in the community, including a $1.2 million allocation to increase accessibility of services through the development of a north-side service hub.
  • The County will make a $5.2 million capital investment in our parks, continuing our history of investments to get rid of deferred maintenance.
  • A multi-year, multi-million dollar investment in revitalizing the Milwaukee County Zoo’s elephant exhibit, the only one of its kind within 400 miles. In addition to improving one of the Zoo’s most popular exhibits, this investment will improve the County’s long-term financial sustainability by attracting more visitors and increasing revenues.

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