Please take a moment to read to complete JSOnline article.
Now, I do not claim to know the gritty details of the budget. So, I am going to make some educated guesses about what I think will happen regarding the budget.
1. The final budget number will require an increase in the amount of dollars extracted from YOU, the taxpayer.
2. Our elected representatives will talk about how difficult it was to fund all of these necessary services which are needed to preserve our “quality of life.”
3. Everyone on the County Board, to the person, will proclaim that the increase was “reasonable” and that they “held the line” on taxes.
4. The taxpayers in Milwaukee County will fall for it.
How do I know? Because it happens every budget cycle. We have been conditioned to believe that taxes MUST go up as an inevitability. We believe that without the funding of any and all of these services, our “quality of life” will disappear. We have bought into the notion that all we can hope for is to “hold the line” on taxes. This is complete bunk.
Milwaukee County has plenty of money. It’s just simply spent on ill-conceived priorities. For instance, 12-18 months ago, the Milwaukee County Board thought it would be a good idea to extend health care benefits to homosexual partners and to unwed heterosexual partners of county workers. This was championed by Marina Dimitrijevic who said that is was a small price to pay for fairness. That may even be an exact quote. The estimated first-year cost was projected at $750,000.00. Inside sources said that there was a near stampede of people who hopped on board this gravy train. Far more than expected. Although the exact dollar amount for the first year is not clear, it is not an exaggeration to say that it exceeded the $1,000,000.00 mark. Again, this is only for year one. The County Board passed this measure while barely blinking an eyelash. This means that about 1/3 of the amount of “reasonable” taxes that are about to be thrust upon you are from that single decision. So, when they say they will “hold the line” on taxes, what line are they talking about?
Let me ask you something else. How is YOUR quality of life? Did you get an increase in pay last year? Do you feel safe riding the bus? Do you feel comfortable letting your kids play in the parks by themselves? Are you receiving a higher level of service than those living in adjacent counties? Why are people moving out of Milwaukee County faster than those moving in? These are questions you should be asking your County Supervisor.
What should be our priorities? Let me offer a few suggestions:
1. Make the County Board a part-time position. Part-time work, does not deserve full-time pay. The vast majority of supervisors already have full-time jobs outside of the County Board. Why are we paying them full-time pay and benefits?
2. Make sure the Sheriff’s & Corrections departments are fully funded. The #1 job of government is to restrain the lawless. We need to make sure the sheriff’s and corrections departments have everything they need to fulfill this task.
3. Preserve the bus service. Our mass transit dollars should only be used for buses. These dollars should NOT be used for trains, trolleys or any other “transportation system.” Buses, period.
We can argue about whatever money is left over after funding these priorities, but not until then. Maybe you do not agree with these priorities and that’s fine. But I’m not the one you need to convince. You need to contact your County Supervisor and let him/her know your view. If you fail to do so, don’t be surprised when you look at your next property tax bill.