Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. holds a news conference along with Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs Association President Roy Felber (center left) to take County Executive Chris Abele to task for the sheriff’s office’s 2015 budget proposal.
At a news conference held outside Abele’s third-floor offices at the courthouse, Clark said his department is not getting the $3.9 million increase that Abele has touted as the biggest increase in his proposed 2015 budget. “It’s a lie,” Clarke said.
“It’s not a $4 million increase, but a $5.7 million cut, and I will have to lay off 19 deputies and 11 members of the command staff,” he said, flanked by 19 uniformed deputies. “It’s dangerous and unacceptable.”
In the August primary election for sheriff, Abele supported Clarke’s opponent, Milwaukee police Lt. Chris Moews, and contributed more than $250,000 to Moews’ campaign through a third-party group. Clarke won and faces nominal competition in the Nov. 4 general election.
Clarke said he feared after the primary that there would be retribution from Abele, and Thursday he said “the budget is retribution, as I predicted.”
Abele said Clarke makes negative remarks about him every year, but he has never sought to hurt Clarke through the budget. He also questioned why, if the sheriff is so concerned about overtime and his staff, he brought 19 officers with him to the news conference. And he insisted that his budget proposes a $3.9 million increase.
According to Abele’s budget, the sheriff’s 2014 budget is shown as $62.8 million from the tax levy. The proposed 2015 budget shows the levy at $66.7 million with the $3.9 million variance.
Clarke and his budget staff said that actually the sheriff’s budget in 2014 was $66.6 million, but that it’s now shown in the 2015 documents as $62.8 million to reflect programs that Abele had proposed enacting in 2014 but that were not passed by the County Board. Those programs are the communications and emergency management system that Abele had proposed transferring from the sheriff’s office to another department.
“The county executive deducted communications and emergency management costs — $4 million — on the 2015 proposed budget summary, and made it look like he gave the department a $4 million increase,” Inspector Richard Schmidt said in an interview.
Abele said the figures were used for comparative purposes. The $62 million figure reflects what the budget would have been without those programs, he said. He has again proposed removing communications and emergency management from the sheriff’s office, which Clarke does not support.
Abele said Clarke’s office will get a $3.9 million increase, even if communications and emergency management remains in his department.
One of the reasons Abele said he’s proposing the increase is because of a drop in revenue from freeway tickets that deputies issue.