County Supervisor Steve Taylor says he supports increases to county employees' health care costs, though he does not agree with a plan to shift patrols of county parks away from the sheriff's office.
Taylor touched on a number of other topics at a sparsely-attended town-hall meeting in Oak Creek City Hall Thursday night, but the proposed county budget was the central focus. The county board is mulling County Executive Chris Abele's proposal and is scheduled to approve a budget in November.
The proposal calls for health care costs to continue to shift toward employees and retirees to help make up for a $28.5 million budget shortfall.
Under Abele's plan, $9.3 million of anticipated health care costs increases would be covered by moving $10.5 million worth of costs to employees and retirees, according to a county board overview of the budget.
The remaining $1.2 million of tax levy savings would be used to offset other expenses in the budget.
Taylor, who represents most of Oak Creek on the county board, said the county can't shift costs to employees indefinitely, but said he supports doing so this year.
"I don't think we have a choice," Taylor said. "I don't think you can continue to go to the taxpayers and ask them to keep on paying for all the (county employees') benefits."
There is some discussion about taking money that would go toward employees' raises and using it to offset health care costs, Taylor said, which is something he would consider.
However, Taylor was not on board with another part of Abele's proposal, in which Milwaukee police would patrol county parks within the city of Milwaukee.
Abele has said the plan, which also calls for MPD to handle 911 calls from the city, ensures the community will get better service in the parks while the county saves tax dollars.
"Not only does this plan create a strong partnership with local governments, it will also allow us a better way to gather policing data for the parks," Abele said in his budget address. "Getting more information will allow us to make better decisions on how we allocate money for parks security moving forward."
"It's obvious that the city of Milwaukee Police Department can't handle the workload they have now," Taylor said. "Another thing is taking suburban tax dollars and sending it to the city of Milwaukee."
But if the county board does away with that plan, it will have to find a way to make up for the $1.6 million in savings it provides, Taylor said.