Chris Abele says Milwaukee County is ‘running out of revenue options’

Chris Abele

MILWAUKEE -- There’s no wheel tax -- and no parking meters in county parks, but Milwaukee County would hike zoo admission and other fees as part of Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele’s recommended 2019 budget.

Abele told the board on Monday, Oct. 1 they are "running out of revenue options."

"You can get more efficient to a point, but nobody's a magician," Abele said.

Abele presented his 2019 budget plan to the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors on Monday morning. It includes $23 million in cuts across all departments.

"We have to be in this together. We are co-equal branches," Abele said.

But there is one thing the county executive wants to increase -- pay for correctional officers.

"If we don't address this, this issue is going to become not just an expensive one, a dangerous one," Abele said.

In a recent email to Abele and County Board members obtained by the FOX6 Investigators, a pair of correctional officers decried a "staffing emergency" at the House of Correction. They said officers are working 12- to 16-hour days with no days off. That is making it difficult to keep employees.

"At some point, it starts getting more expensive because you have to bring people in on overtime at time-and-a-half, and at some point after that, it gets dangerous," Abele said.

Abele has added $500,000 to the budget for raises to bring county correctional officer salaries closer to levels paid by the state. The questions are -- will the board approve the increase -- and will it be enough to manage the "crisis?"

One union representative FOX6 News spoke with on the phone said $500,000 will not go very far for the hundreds of employees on staff.

Even if the increase is approved, Abele said the raises will not take effect until summer 2019.

Milwaukee County House of Correction