The Fighting 14th!

The official blog of Milwaukee County Supervisor Jason Haas

Live Blogging 11/2 Budget Hearing

To listen live to the session, visit this link. (The meeting is now over.) Please let me know if it does not work for you.

Newer content is toward the bottom of this post. (I’ll do that the other way around next time.)

In the end, the committee voted to raise the levy by 2.153%.

Based on actions taken thus far, the tax levy change is $5,802,727 for a final levy of $275,357,428, an increase of 2.153%. Even with cuts to almost every program in the County government, that amounts to about $5/person. EMS funding is cut in half — though the county executive proposed eliminating it entirely.  This is not to mention that we have virtually no contingency fund, and next year our ability to raise the tax levy will be severely limited.


Amendment 1A069 by Sanfelippo

  • Would delay implementation of the Universal Screening program proposed by CE Abele and approved by the Board while also restoring booking deputies .
  • Motion to Deny by De Bruin.
  • Sheriff’s fiscal administrator: Sheriff Dept. not doing any screening. Mayo: Who does booking? Combination of deputies and correctional officers.
  • People from the Judiciary are speaking. DA Chisholm is now up, making arguments in favor. Chisholm says hard questions are appropriate and important. He said “gut-wrenching decisions” twice now.
  • CE’s Legislative Director Tia Torhorst is now speaking in favor of the bill.
  • Kit Murphy McNally urges rejection of the amendment and passage of the original proposal.
  • Motion to Deny: Approved 6-0.

Amendment 1A076 by Lipscomb

  • Would place money back in the 2012 budget for membership in the Wisconsin Counties Association.
  • Chief of Staff Terry Cooley is speaking on behalf of Board Chairman Holloway, who opposes the amendment.
  • Finance Committee Chairman Thomas concurs with Chairman Holloway. “WCA was supposed to be our friend,” but they have opposed issues and positions that are in Milwaukee County’s best interests. Concerns about their “best and brightest” not being so.
  • Motion to Deny by Thomas.
  • Schmitt: familiar with the history,  but we shouldn’t give up our lobbying ability. Although we lobby for things we know we’ll lose on, if we pull the plug, we’ll lose for good.
  • Romo West: Echo Sup. Thomas’s concerns, adding that her concerns were ignored by WCA. Also, where is women’s leadership in WCA?
  • Mayo: I will support move to deny. Why keep throwing money at someone when their lobbying doesn’t work? We have better uses for the $35,000.
  • Johnson: We will remain part of Wisconsin County Insurance Corporation.
  • Lipscomb: I don’t dispute anything that has been said; I’m not an apologist for WCA. I’ve had spirited arguments with them. Not for status quo. “I believe this is the right move, a shot over the bow to get their attention.” “I do respect everyone’s position on this.”
  • Motion to Deny: Approved 4-2. (De Bruin, Schmitt)

Amendment 1A070 by Weishan

  • Appropriation of $150,000 to offset cost of establishing a separate elected Office of Comptroller.
  • Thomas will abstain from voting on this bill.
  • Schmitt: Questions about the cost of the office. How will the state bill be cost-neutral to the County?
  • Weishan: State Sen. Taylor’s amendment will have the County prepare a report… saying we have to fit 3 new positions (Treasurer, elected Controller, Deputy Controller) into the budget which pays for one position — and we can’t raise the tax levy to pay for these positions. Costs must be pulled from other parts of the budget. If Abele says it’s not going to effect the tax levy, they should take it from the CEX’s office.
  • Mayo, to Torhorst: Where is this paid for? Torhorst: It’s paid for. Mayo: where? (Section 1200). Mayo: have you told Madison you have the funding for this? (Deputy Controller has been a funded position, but has been empty for some time. It’s not in the budget overview because it has been an existing funded position.) Torhorst: “I don’t believe that we are actively floating funding anywhere.” Mayo: You are telling me you are not floating anything up in Madison. Is that correct? Is CE floating any source that does not work with this body? Torhorst: I believe statement is that we will work with county board to find funding.
  • Mayo moves approval.
  • Johnson: not for the legislation in Madison. How we’re functioning now is good, I will not support this amendment.
  • Weishan: This is a cost increase for Milwaukee County.
  • Biddle: I oppose this, advocate taking $ out of  CEX’s budget, as this is not initiative he talked to the County Board about. He has worked with GMC and state to ram through very bad bill. They’ll work with us after the bill passes. Not before. We should have money in the event we have to work together. We’re not now.
  • Romo West: question on salaries. Position proposed in Madison: price tag? What is it? It would be a huge mistake to get rid of our auditor, perplexed that Milwaukee delegation signed onto this bill at the state.
  • Pat Farley, DAS Director: I didn’t see any salary attached to the comptroller position. (Controller position is $117,000.)
  • Romo West: is that salary you see bringing person in at? Farley: I haven’t talked with CEX about this.
  • Motion to Approve: Failed 2-3. (This will come to the Board.)

Amendment 1A016 by Biddle

  • Audit with no tax levy: are privatized services providing maximum output?
  • Romo West: was there a similar audit a few years ago? Hard to hear response from budget analyst.
  • Romo West moves approval.
  • DeBruin: If state creates new position, will we have authority to do this? Budget analyst was not sure.
  • Approved 6-0.

Amendment 1A025 by Haas

  • Have IMSD perform a study about transition to open source web and email servers. My amendment!
  • Passed 5-0, Schmitt was excused. He asked to be added.
Amendment 1A066
  • Delete on position of IT Director – Business Development
  • Failed 3-3.
Amendments 1A067, 1A068, 1A074 (all on Sheriff)
  • Restores funding for Correctional Officers by unfunding five CO Manager positions.
  • Jurisk: Procedurally, how will we operate here? We are still in negotiations with sheriffs deputies. Analyst: we want to make positions within the budget that will dovetail with negotiations as they proceed. Jursik: how will this get done without information in front of you? Analyst: we can consider amendments under suspension of the rules on Monday (during the budget meeting).
  • Now hearing Amendment 1A074  by Lipscomb.
  • DeBruin: 1A067, 1A068 are competing amendments, we couldn’t pass both.
  • Schmitt: We shouldn’t be doing this due to negotiations.
  • Johnson: Christensen consent decree has caused us to pay over $600,000.
  • Romo West: Concerns about the sheriff being able to do as he pleases with the $ are unfounded.  CEX budget calls for removal of 133 deputies. “I see slow disintegration here of our front line staff.”
  • Johnson moves approval of 1A074. Passed 5-0.
Amendment 1A072 by Biddle
  • Creates interns as part of the Ready To Work program.
  • Approved 6-0.
Amendment 1A 061 by Weishan, Dimitrijevic, Lipscomb, Biddle, Haas, Harris
  • Restores $1.5 million to EMS services (which wouldn’t have been a problem if the state had passed the 1% sales tax levy we voted for in 2008!)
  • Torhorst: Does this require us to reopen contract? Weishan: we would exercise our exit clause. Torhorst: CEX is leery of renegotiation.
  • Jurisk: This is exercising right to renegotiate and then micromanages rates.
  • DeBruin: Jursik’s original amendment would have been cleaner, but the committee did not adopt it. This is an improvement over the original we voted for, as it recognizes legal issues, redoes the formula, and removes senior funding clause. County Exec didn’t want to fund anything. CEX would prefer not to reopen contract? Torhorst: Current contract goes to 12/31/12… won’t comment on raising tax levy to pay for EMS…
  • Weishan: the standing deal was a backroom deal. We’re trying to make this better. Under CEX’s budget, all services would go away.
  • Reconsideration of 1A006: approved 4-2.
  • DeBruin moved to substitute 1A 061 for 1A 006: 4-2.
  • Approval of 1A 061:  4-2.
  • Denial of 1A 006: Approved 5-1.
Amendment 1A 064 by Mayo
  • Approved 6-0.
Amendment 1C 009 by Lipscomb
  • Increase contingency by $1.45 million, and increase tax levy. Total increase 2.7% of the levy.
  • Move to Deny  by DeBruin.
  • Romo West supports move to deny: “I can’t support 2.7% increase in tax levy.”
  • Motion to Deny approved 4-2.
Amendment 1C 008 by Lipscomb
  • Would have the County allow its contract with Cambridge Advisory Group to expire on December 31, 2011.
  • County would issue RFP for “local, well-established and licensed insurance agencies” for actuarial healthcare plan services.
  • Analyst: might want to take care the firm has national ties to get best rates.
  • DeBruin: how long have we been with Cambridge? Analyst: over five years, multiple contracts. Going self-insured, it was thought we could develop in-house staff. DBR: Amount paid to Cambridge today? Analyst: We’d have to get an actual #; not sure what it’s been. DBR: Given length of contract, I support RFP, but I have trouble with this amendment, as it forces the RFP to be local, “which I think limits to scope.” Analyst: AFAIK, Cambridge does not make any money from the insurance or medical vendors we work with; you don’t want that. DBR: This is too narrow for my comfort. Also, if we wanted to re-RFP, when would that be?
  • DAS Director: It’s good business practice to re-bid; over-specifying is bad, as it excludes ppl. [Discussion continues…]
  • DeBruin: would administration support RFPing the contract at this point? DAS Director: Yes. Month-to-month work with Cambridge to ensure no lapse of services.
  • DeBruin moved to deny. “I am concerned that the way this amendment is written… you could only solicit requests from local companies” while excluding national ones. Concerns about conflicts of interest.
  • Sanfelippo: Not saying we should move away from self-insurance; feel it’s the best way to go to save $. “The RFP could be written in a way that does not keep Cambridge” out, but they would have to work with a firm that knows the local market well. (Did he just argue on behalf of the workers?!)  “Cambridge is a nice firm; I’m not picking on them.”
  • DeBruin: The amendment “reads differently.” Questions about how to structure the language to include local options.
  • (Cambridge, in 2011, billed just over $400,000.)
  • Scmitt: “There’s a cost here, sure, but look at the rewards.” … sounds supportive of Cambridge… will support denial.
  • Thomas calls for a vote: motion to deny failed 3-3.
Amendment 2: failed approval 3-2.
State Exempt Computer Aid
  • Will in effect reduce tax levy… by $459. The changes adopted today lowered the levy by that amount. DeBruin moved approval.
  • Approved 5-1 (Mayo).
Technical Corrections that were laid over:
  • Approved 5-1 (Mayo)
Property Taxes as Amended
  • Based on actions taken thus far, the tax levy change is $5,802,727 for a final levy of $275,357,428, an increase of 2.153%.
  • DeBruin moved approval.
  • Approved 4-2 (Schmitt, Mayo)
Budget As Amended
  • Moved approval: 5-1. (Schmitt)

The meeting is adjourned.


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