Should the Milwaukee County Board be Reduced?
Municipal leaders agreed to discuss the topic with their councils and boards and possible add an advisory referendum to the April ballots.
Local municipal leaders have felt like their voices have not been heard by the Milwaukee County Board over the last several months.
On Monday they made a loud statement directed at those who they feel are ignoring them.
At a meeting in Franklin, Intergovernmental Cooperation Council members, village presidents and city mayors of the 19 municipalities within the city, overwhelmingly supported taking initial steps to add an advisory referendum to next spring’s election ballots.
Many ICC members want constituents to have a vote on whether the number of county supervisors should be reduced and whether supervisors should be part-time, measures supported by a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial earlier this week. ICC members uniformly agreed to take the issue back to their respective councils or boards in December and revisit the issue in time for the spring election.
“They are not listening to us,” Franklin Mayor and ICC chair Tom Taylor said. “That is why this is before us.”
“These are public policy initiatives have been around for years,” Fox Point President Michael West said. “I think that what we should do is bring this forward to the citizens simply on its public policy merits: part-time versus full-time and how many is the right number.”
Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke agreed.
“We’re giving our constituents and their constituents, the opportunity to decide whether or not (downsizing) is appropriate,” he said. “They’re responsibilities have declined. The amount of employees they have has declined. Should they be full-time? Should there be 18 or 19 of them. … This applies to the supervisors who voted for for the paramedic program just as much as it does to those who voted against it.”
The Milwaukee County Board is the only county board in the state comprised of full-time positions, according to a representative of the Greater Milwaukee Committee who spoke briefly at the ICC meeting.
River Hills President Robert Brunner doesn’t think the referendum would go far enough. He’s also like to see the supervisor’s staffs reduced and have a salary cap in place for the supervisors.
South Milwaukee Mayor Tom Zepecki questioned the timing of the ICC’s initiative, especially with the county’s paramedic program at the board and county executive’s mercy.
“I’m not sure this is good timing for us,” he said. “We’re appealing to the county executive and a majority of the county supervisors to help us promote our paramedic program and continue it as we know it, and now you’re telling them we want to cut their legs out from under them or cut them in half and reduce their salaries.”
At last night's Greendale Village Board meeting Village president John Hermes gave the trustees a copy of the proposed referendum and asked them to come back to the next board meeting with their opinion on having the referendum included in April's ballot.