MILWAUKEE COUNTY -- The debate continued Tuesday, Feb. 6 on whether Milwaukee County should charge people to park in county parks. The idea has sparked concern from park lovers and some county leaders.
A view of Milwaukee's skyline above a frozen Lake Michigan draws Jason Cotton to South Shore Park a few times a week.
"I come here and work on my laptop and do paperwork and stuff like that," said Cotton.
Cotton said he opposes the proposal of paying to park at county parks.
"If I have to pay to park here, that would be terrible," Cotton said.
Milwaukee County's 2018 budget already includes $1.6 million that is set to come from parks parking revenue. County Executive Chris Abele has said he knows the move is unpopular, but it is better than increases elsewhere.
"I think most people understand if we're going to continue to have a great parks system, we need to figure out ways to pay for it," said the County Director of Administrative Services Tiege Whaley-Smith.
The Milwaukee County Board has decided to vote on the proposal separately from the budget.
"We've never collected money from these types of programs. What are we missing? Let's get creative. Let's work together," Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic said.
Public hearings are designed to allow leaders the opportunity to gather information and ideas for possible alternatives.
"These are meant to be free and open and accessible for everyone. There shouldn't be any obstacle or barrier," said Dimitrijevic.
Cotton said if there is a chance, he hopes the future funds will somehow be used to help the county he loves.
"Like social programs, potholes, things like that," Cotton said.
The public hearing is set for Tuesday evening. Any proposal has to go to the County Board for approval.