The Fighting 14th!

The official blog of Milwaukee County Supervisor Jason Haas

Archive for the month “October, 2011”

October 27, 2011 Milwaukee County budget hearing

Naturally, the only one that I physically could not attend is the one where they vote on the tax levy. I have little doubt that County Executive Abele will veto it, but we’ll see how it plays out.



Milwaukee, WI – The Milwaukee County Board’s Finance & Audit Committee is holding a series of public meetings throughout October on the County Executive’s 2012 Recommended Budget.  Each day, the Committee reviews a number of specific departments and items in the budget.

Today, the Committee reviewed the following departments and approved the noted amendments:

• Amendment approved 6-0 to abolish two Noise Abatement Specialist positions and create three new positions at General Mitchell International Airport to assist in operations.

• Amendment approved 4-2 (No: Mayo, Thomas) to adopt policy that the tax levy support for the Department of Parks for the next four years, 2013 through 2016, shall not be less than the tax levy budgeted for this department in the 2012 adopted budget.

Department of Administrative Services
• Amendment approved 5-0-1 (Abstain: Thomas) to create a separate and stand-alone Department of Comptroller and Finance, and retitle the positions of Controller and Deputy Controller to Comptroller and Deputy Comptroller.   The position of Comptroller shall be appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Board, and shall be removable from office for cause with the concurrence of both the County Executive and a majority vote of the County Board, or by a two-thirds vote of the County Board.  A number of other positions are transferred from DAS-Administration and Fiscal Affairs Division to the Department of Comptroller and Finance.  The comptroller shall be a position in the classified service and shall have an employment contract duration of five years, commencing January 1, 2012 and which shall be renewable for additional five year terms upon approval from by the County Board and concurrence of the County Executive.

Milwaukee County Transit/Paratransit
• Amendment approved 6-0 to report on the availability of a live feed of real time information on bus location using GPS technology and study electronically posting project times of arrival at heavily-frequented bus stops.

Employee Fringe Benefits
• Amendment approved 6-0 to decrease the proposed employee monthly premium for the family plan to $170 from $250, decreased the proposed office visit co-pay to $30 from $40, and decrease the annual out-of-pocket limit for preferred providers to $2,500 single/$5,000 family, from $3,000/$6,000 respectively.

Budget Amendment No. 2
• Amendment approved 6-0 to reflect personnel actions approved by the Personnel Committee and the County Board that are not included in the County Executive’s 2012 Recommended Budget.
Ordinance Changes

County Ordinances
• Ordinance amendment approved 3-2-1 (No: De Bruin, Mayo, Excused: Johnson) to add that any surplus sales and use tax revenues be applied toward county expenditures, including prefund employee benefit costs or fund unanticipated or extraordinary annual increases in such costs; or supplement the Appropriation for Contingencies.
• Ordinance amendment approved 4-1-1 (No: De Bruin, Excused: Johnson) to increase admission and parking fees at the Milwaukee County Zoo.
• Ordinance amendment approved 4-1-1 (No: Mayo, Excused: Johnson) increasing fees for certain parking violations in Milwaukee County.
• Ordinance amendment approved 4-1-1 (No: Mayo, Excused: Johnson) to abolish language relating to the reimbursement of Continuing Legal Education credits and membership dues for the Wisconsin Bar Association for non-represented attorneys and State-employed prosecutors in the Office of the District Attorney.

State Exempt Computer Aid approved 5-0 (Excused: Johnson)

Property Tax Levy (as amended)
• 5-1 (No: Schmitt) to approve property tax levy of $275,392,969, an increase of $5,838,268 or 2.17% from the previous year (9.6 million below the State-imposed levy cap for 2012)

2012 County Budget (as amended)
• 5-1 (No: Schmitt) to approve

The Committee’s final meeting on the 2012 County Budget is Wednesday, November 2 at 9:30 a.m. in Room 203-R of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

The County Board’s annual Public Hearing on the 2012 Budget is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Monday, October 31 at the Washington Park Senior Center, located at 4420 W. Vliet Street in Milwaukee.

The County Board of Supervisors, under the leadership of Chairman Lee Holloway, will adopt the 2012 Budget on Monday, November 7 at 8:30 a.m. in Room 200 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.


Live blogging Oct. 26 2011 Milwaukee County budget hearing

1:20PM: Amendment 1C0005 was laid over, unanimous vote (6-0).

1:52PM: Patty Yunk, Director of Public Policy at AFSCME DC 48, is testifying on the proposed changes and greatly increased premium contributions to employee and retiree health insurance coverage.

2:10PM: A county retiree is now testifying on the same topic.

2:14PM: Another county retiree is now testifying on the topic. She is concerned about the effects on older retirees. A Medicare co-pay is being proposed as part of this. This would be “to ship us out to sea and throw us overboard without a life jacket.”

2:18PM: Now on budget for Land Sales, budget section 1933. (PDF; you will need to look through the non-departmental revenue document for section 1933.)

2:23PM: DAS Procurement Budget, and amendments 1A027, 1A028, 1A030.

Amendment 1A027 (Harris, Thomas, Biddle, Dimitrijevic; De Bruin is chairing this amendment), which would create a way to get free birth certificates. This is in response to the voter ID law. In order to get a free ID to vote with, a person must present a birth certificate. The state has been totally uncooperative, and would not allow the county to waive the birth certificate fee. Rather than raise the tax levy, this would move money from DAS-Procurement. Supervisor Mayo moved approval. Sup. Johnson has asked to become a co-sponsor. Sup. Romo West emphasized “what a huge issue” this will be, as many central city residents to do not have a birth certificate.

Sup. Schmitt questioned how many birth certificates will be acquired. Sup. Harris is sharing statistics on the large numbers of citizens who do not have identification — nearly half of all minority populations. She added that this will pay for 5,000 birth certificates. Schmitt thinks the $100,000 figure is too high. He will support the next amendment that is for only $50,000. Sup. Jursik is commenting on the number of elderly voters who are very unhappy with the need to have ID just to vote. Also, will this be in effect if the League of Women Voters lawsuit against the voter ID law succeeds? Harris replied, if it succeeds, we’ll repeal this, but I don’t want to wait for that to be decided. Harris thinks it needs to be implemented now.

John La Fave, County Register of Deeds, is now speaking in support of the amendment. He noted that when a person comes seeking their birth record, they need to bring an ID. They do have procedures to deal with this (e.g. the person doesn’t need a free copy of their birth certificate.) People will still need to follow through on the state requirements to obtain a birth certificate.

Citizen testimony: Students and community members spoke in favor of the amendment. Describing people from Milwaukee who never had ID,  birth certificate.

[At this point I was informed that my child’s daycare had called, and that he has vomited. I need to go get him now.]

Motion to approve passed 5-1 (Schmitt)

Milwaukee County 2012 budget hearings, Day 7 (10/24/2011)

The amount of activity on the county board appears to increase in direct proportion to the proximity of any meeting, and even more so as budget passage nears. Things are really picking up now, and we have about two weeks before our final budget-passing marathon meeting.

Here’s what the finance committee looked at today:

Milwaukee County Transit/Paratransit System
• Amendment approved 6-0 to conduct an audit of the Milwaukee County Paratransit program to focus on fraud prevention and quality of service issues as well as any other concerns identified in the courthouse of the audit.
[Over a dozen fraudsters were nabbed the last time this was performed!
• Amendment approved 5-1 (No: Schmitt) to increase Paratransit fares by $0.75 rather than the $1.25 recommended by the County Executive.
• Amendment approved 4-2 (No: Mayo, Schmitt) to have the Office of the Sheriff administer the current contract with G4S Wackenhut for security on transit buses and the $920,000 appropriation for these services is budgeted in the Office of the Sheriff. The Sheriff is requested to manage transit security services and recommend changes to improve effectiveness.
• Amendment approved 6-0 to include, beginning in June 2012, driver safety shield installation on all new Milwaukee County Transit System bus purchase specifications. Milwaukee County shall seek grant funding for the installation of safety shields for existing transit fleet vehicles. [Emphasis added.]
• Amendment approved 5-1 (No: Thomas) to continue a pilot program for designated stroller areas on transit buses. Additionally, MCTS will work with the Office of the Sheriff to enforce Chapter 63, in that no non-service animals or specified weapons are allowed on any transit fleet vehicles in order to maximize passenger/driver safety.

DAS – Facilities Management
• Amendment approved 6-0 to work with the Department of Audit to develop a method of collecting data on racial and gender breakdowns of all contractor employees working on Milwaukee County construction or maintenance projects.
• Amendment approved 3-2 (No: De Bruin, Schmitt) to employ County security employees at secure designated security facilities, with the cost partially offset with the elimination of the current security contract.
• Amendment approved 5-0 (Excused: Mayo) to eliminate the contribution to the debt service reserve, conduct a countywide comprehensive facilities plan, and increase the Appropriation for Contingencies.

Federated Library System
• Amendment approved 4-2 (No: Schmitt, Thomas) to restore the County’s 2012 tax levy contribution of $66,650 to the Federated Library System. [An increase of some $9,000 on the tax levy.]

• Amendment approved 6-0 to form a Workgroup to enter into discussions with the Hunger Task Force on the specifics of a lease arrangement that is beneficial to both parties. The proposed lease shall address all components of operating the farm and fish hatchery including, but not limited to, staffing, land utilization, commodity distribution and building maintenance and repair. [I co-sponsored this amendment.]
• Amendment approved 5-1 (No: Thomas) to increase seasonal parks staff hours from 366,683 to 411,446. [I’ll check on the tax levy implications of this.]
• Amendment approved 4-2 (No: Schmitt, Thomas) to deny the abolishment of 15 FTE Park Maintenance Worker in Charge positions and create 15 FTE Parks/Highway Maintenance Workers.

• • •

Tomorrow’s budget hearing will be on the county sheriff’s office and the  Behavioral Health Division. Also, I have my budget town hall at the Wilson Park Senior Center that night at 6:00.

Wednesday’s meeting is on Employee Fringe Benefits (which are often now worse than those at a private employer), Land Sales, and the Dept. of Administrative Services.

Thursday’s hearing will be for discussion of Finance and Audit Committee’s amendments and recommended tax levy, State Exempt Computer Aid, if necessary, and the Property Taxes Budget, as Amended.

Monday October 31 is the county board public hearing on the County Executive’s 2012 Recommended Budget. At this meeting, the public does all the speaking, and we listen. This will be at the Washington Park Senior Center, 4420 West Vliet Street.

The final Committee on Finance and Audit Budget Hearing will be on Wednesday, November 2, 2011, at 9:30 a.m.

We meet on Monday, November 7 to hammer out the final version, and hopefully pass it before the day turns into night and the night into day. But even then, it’s not over! We meet again on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 1:30 p.m. for possible veto overrides. I guarantee you Abele is going to try to keep the budget as flat as Walker. We’ll see how it all turns out.

Amendment Update for October 19

These are all of the proposed amendments to the county budget that will effect the county tax levy.

The name of the amendment is listed, followed by its tax levy impact. Numbers in (parenthesis) would lower the levy, or at least not be taken from it. To figure out how much something would cost an individual taxpayer, divide the levy impact by the approimate county population of 968,000. For instance, item 2 has a levy of $50,000, which breaks down to about three cents per person.

While this is my first budget, I think it’s safe to say that not all of these amendments will make it through into the final budget that the Board passes. And the county executive has the power to veto them. We’ll see!

1) Restore $321,035 for CAMPAC (Org. 1974 – MC Fund for the Arts)  | $321,035
2) Provide $50,000 to the Parks for cultural programming (Org. 9000 –Parks) |  $50,000
3) Increase anticipated Potawatomi revenue by $27,036 and switch Safe Alternatives for Youth (SAY) to be paid with Potawatomi revenue rather than tax levy. (Org. 1937 – Potawatomi Revenue & Org. 8000-DHHS) |  ($27,036)
4) Deny the consolidation of the Department of Labor Relations, Ethics Board and Personnel Review Board into the Department of Human Resources (Orgs. 1140 – Human Resources, Org. 1905 – Ethics Board, Org. 1120 – Personnel Review Board and Org. 1135 – Labor Relations |  ($29,690)
5) Commuter Value Pass quarterly fares increase by $6 (Org. 5600 – Transit/Paratransit) | ($88,128)
TOTAL $226,181

The following table shows the amendments that were approved by the Committee on
Finance and Audit through the October 18, 2011 meeting. Only amendments that have no
tax levy impact are shown.

Amendments with No Tax Levy Impact

1) Increase Medical Examiner professional services for forensic lab oversight by $15,000,
offset by a revenue increase of $15,000 in medical service fees. (Org. 4900 – Med Ex.)
2) Deny the transfer of the Courts’ Human Resources Manager to the Department of Human
Resources (Org. 2000 Combined Courts & Org. 1140 Human Resources)
3) Clarify narrative language that any savings associated with the closure of inpatient units
will remain in the BHD budget and requiring a report on how the savings will be used.
(Org. 6300 – BHD)
4) Abolish one position of Accountant 3, instead of Accountant 1, and increase vacancy and
turnover to cover the difference in cost of the positions. (Org. 7900 – Aging)

The following table shows Capital Improvement Budget amendments that were approved by
the Committee on Finance and Audit through the October 18, 2011 meeting.
Approved Capital Improvement Amendments Bonding Impact
1) None $0

Enhancing our County Parks

Here’s an interesting factoid: there is a total of nine County Parks within my county supervisory district. All nine of them are centers of recreation for our neighborhoods.

As you may know, the budgets for the Parks Department have gotten worse and worse over the past thirty years. As a response to that, citizen groups have been forming. People are tired of the grass growing out of control, or vagrants hanging around in the parks. They’re reclaiming the parks as the community fixtures that they always were meant to be.

A great way to do this in Milwaukee County is with the help of a group called The Park People of Milwaukee County. The Park People is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit organization that exists for the betterment of the County Parks. They have done a lot in recent years to help Lake Park, the Oak Creek Mill Pond, and the Mitchell Park Domes.

As I wrote, there are nine County Parks within my district. Five of these nine parks lay west of Howell Avenue: CopernicusHoller, Mitchell Airport, Saveland, and Wilson Park. The other four are east of Howell: Bay ViewHumboldt, Morgan (Triangle), and Tippecanoe Park.

(Milwaukee political geeks: the first five are in the 13th aldermanic district, “the Garden District,” while the eastern four are in the 14th aldermanic district.)

As a county supervisor, one of the missions I set out for myself was to help start a Friends group for every County Park in my district. Through that, we can bring the neighborhoods closer together, and improve the situations within each of them. Yesterday we had the first meeting for Friends of Saveland Park. Almost twenty people packed into the small pavilion there in Saveland Park! They were all excited about the prospect of starting a group to better their park and their neighborhood. The group for Holler Park already exists in the form of the Holler Park Neighborhood Association, and we got them rolling with The Park People a few weeks ago. And just today I met with a person I’m going to start Friends of Morgan Park with. Three out of nine are under way. Not a bad start.

If there’s a Milwaukee County Park in your neighborhood, you can talk with The Park People about starting a Friends group for your park. And if it happens to be one in my district — Bay View, Copernicus, Holler, Humboldt, Mitchell Airport, Tippecanoe, and Wilson Park — let’s talk!

Milwaukee County 2012 budget hearings, Day 7 (10/18/2011)

A day late, but there’s no hearing today, or the rest of the week. So it works out. I’ll add my notes later on.

Hearings will resume on Monday, October 24th at 1:00 p.m.

On the 18th, the Finance & Audit Committee reviewed the Capital Improvement Budget, including the following items:

• General Mitchell International Airport (GMIA) – Airfield Safety Improvements
• GMIA – Runways 1L – 19R & 7R – 25L Intersection Re-Paving
• GMIA – Redundant Main Electric Service Feed
• GMIA – Training Facility
• Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport (LJT) – Runway 15L – 33R Extension
• GMIA – Purchase of Non-County Owned Jet Bridges
• GMIA – Terminal Roadway Signage
• GMIA – Cessna Service Apron Reconstruction
• GMIA – Perimeter Road Bridge over Howell Ave
• GMIA – Perimeter Road Extension 128th ARW to College
• GMIA – Terminal Escalator Replacement
• LJT – Runway and Taxiway Light Replacement
• GMIA – Fuel Farm Electrical Service Upgrade

• Zoo Master Plan

Other County Agencies
• Fleet Equipment Acquisition
• Countywide Infrastructure Improvements
• Fiscal Automation Program
• Milwaukee County Revolving Loan Fund
• Special Assessments

Hearings will resume on Monday, October 24th at 1:00 p.m.

Milwaukee County 2012 budget hearings, Day 6 (10/17/2011)

I have been attending every Milwaukee County Finance & Audit Committee hearing on the proposed 2012 county budget. As part of that, I have been posting notes from each meeting. I have posted the previous five entries on my personal blog, and will get them moved over here soon.

When I make comments about a budget item, the comments are placed inside [brackets.]

I took extensive notes and participated in today’s session. So you might think that I’d have more typed up right now… but I took the notes the old-fashioned way—pen and paper. I’ll go off memory for the more interesting stuff.

• • •


Milwaukee, WI – The Milwaukee County Board’s Finance & Audit Committee is holding a series of public meetings throughout October on the

County Executive’s 2012 Recommended Budget

Each day, the Committee reviews a number of specific departments and items in the budget. Today, the Committee reviewed the following budgets:

• Milwaukee County Transit/Paratransit System – Amendment approved 5-1 (No: Thomas) to increase the commuter value pass premiums by $6 per quarter

[This would raise the cost to $201, if I am not mistaken. There was questioning of why the most dedicated riders would be stuck with the sole cost increase. Also, many paratransit riders and their advocates came to talk about how difficult a steep increase in the paratransit fare would be for them.]

• Civil Air Patrol

• DOT – Airport

• DOT – Highway Division

• DOT – Transportation Services

• DOT – Fleet Management

• DOT – Director’s Office

• DAS – Facilities Management

[I believe the county security guards fell under this segment. They are slated to be replaced by contracted security guards from Wackenhut Services. I made a request for information on the turnover rate of Wackenhut employees working in County facilities. There is a small chance that these jobs will not be privatized. But if we don’t do that, where would the projected $100,000 savings come from? As Supervisor Romo West noted, it seems that privatizations save money in the first year, but cost more in the second year and thereafter. I do want to see more than anecdotal evidence of this, and at the same time, I do not support the privatization of these or other jobs.]

• DAS – Architectural, Engineering and Environmental Services

• DAS – Water Utility

The Committee will continue its review of budgets and consideration of amendments throughout October in Room 203-R of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

Click here to access the 2012 budget meeting schedule

Click here to listen to live audio from the meetings

(available while meetings are in progress)

Click here to access the Budget Overview presented by County Board Staff

The County Board of Supervisors, under the leadership of Chairman Lee Holloway, will adopt the 2012 Budget on Monday, November 7 at 8:30 a.m. in Room 200 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

The County Board’s annual Public Hearing on the 2012 Budget is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Monday, October 31 at the Washington Park Senior Center, located at 4420 W. Vliet Street in Milwaukee.


South Side meeting to discuss changes to MCTS Route 15

Let me quote the press release:

Milwaukee County
Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic, 4th District
Supervisor Patricia Jursik, 8th District
Supervisor Jason Haas, 14th District

For Immediate Release October 17, 2011
Contact: Harold Mester, Public Information Manager
414/278-4051 or


Express Route 15 proposed for south side, south shore and airport area

Milwaukee, WI – Milwaukee County Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic, Patricia Jursik and Jason Haas will host an information session regarding the changes to Route 15 and the proposed express bus service included in the County Executive’s 2012 Recommended Budget.

The proposed Express Route 15 would impact Milwaukee’s south side, other south shore communities, and General Mitchell International Airport. The proposal also includes changes to the current Route 15.

In addition to the Supervisors, representatives from the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) will be on hand to present detailed information and answer questions from the public.

Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic, Patricia Jursik and Jason Haas

Information session on Route 15/proposed express bus service
Monday, October 24, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Bay View Library (accessible from MCTS Route 15)
2566 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue, Milwaukee


Route 15 is important to me. I ride the bus, along with tens of thousands of people. I want to make sure that they can continue to use it.

Welcome to the 14th!

Hello, I’m Jason Haas, Milwaukee County Supervisor, 14th District. My district is entirely within the city of Milwaukee. I have a splash of Lake Michigan on the east, and College Avenue along the south. It is generally south of Oklahoma Avenue, with 20th, 27th and 35th Streets being the western borders. General Mitchell International Airport is in my district, along with a total of nine County Parks. Here’s the official county map:

Those are the 2004 borders. The northern border will become a bit more angular in November, when the new districts take effect. We’ll post the map then.

• • •

I have been serving on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors since April 21, 2011. All supervisors serve on several committees. My committee assignments are three: Parks, Energy and Environment, better known as “Parks”; the Transportation, Public Works and Transit, or “Transit”;  and the much shorter-named Personnel Committee. All three do very important work within the county government. Few have given me deeper insights into the county’s inner workings than the Personnel Committee, while the other two deal with what is largely the basis of our quality of life in the county.

Although I’ve been on the board for just six months so far, I have striven to do a great deal of work in the community. I regularly attend neighborhood meetings, and have held one town hall meeting about the 2012 proposed budget, with another coming on Wednesday October 25 at the Wilson Park Senior Center.

Another exiting event will happen on the 20th of October at Saveland Park. We will be meeting at 7:00PM in the Saveland Park Pavilion to discuss forming a group called Friends of Saveland Park. That group’s purpose will be to help create community events at the park, and to raise both awareness and money for repair and improvement of the park.

• • •

We are entering the second week of budget hearings. Tomorrow will focus on the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW), which includes oversight of the airport and the county bus system. On top of that, we have these other sections in DPTW:

5070 DTPW - Transportation Services 
5080 DTPW - Architectural, Engineering and Environmental Services, 
5100 DTPW - Highway Maintenance 
5300 DTPW - Fleet Management 
5700 DTPW – Facilities Management 
5500 DTPW – Water Utility

Let me finish this by saying that if you want to see what a government really looks like and how it runs, sit in on a budget hearing. That’s where you see the inner mechanisms of this body. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but, that’s why we elect representatives to do that for us. I’m proud to say that I have been at every budget hearing we have held at the county courthouse. In about a month, the budget process will be over, and we will gird ourselves for whatever comes next.

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