2012 County Budget Update & How Our Reliance on Property Taxes Is Unsustainable
I've been a bit behind in posting updates about the 2012 County Budget battle that's been taking place over the past few months. Without rehashing the entire thing, it looks like the pattern of County Exec. proposing no tax increase and the County Board coming back with modest increases has happened again.
The Milwaukee County Board on Wednesday completed work on the 2012 budget by overriding most of County Executive Chris Abele's vetoes, resulting in a property tax levy increase of $5.8 million, or 2.15%.
The board reversed Abele vetoes to restore $1.6 million and avoid layoffs of 27 sheriff's deputies; $3 million to soften a big increase in county employee health insurance costs; and nearly $800,000 for paramedic subsidies.
Abele had sought a tax levy freeze for 2012 at this year's $269.6 million. The board's action raises that to $275.4 million to be collected from property taxes toward a $1.2 billion budget.
The impact of the levy increase on the owner of a $150,000 home in Milwaukee will be a $3.84 increase in taxes, according to a County Board estimate. The rise is expected to be significantly higher in many Milwaukee County suburbs. – jsonline.com
Once again, Milwaukee County Parks will see a decrease in their budget while being expected to raise more revenue for themselves. It's sad and as I've pointed out before, the blame for this can be spread far and wide and isn't unique to this County Executive or the previous one.
I was also disappointed to see that Sheriff's Deputies were facing such a huge cut and many of them were to be laid off. This rests on the shoulders of the Sheriff himself as he'd rather deal with a cut to his budget by laying off Deputies instead of cutting high profile – and low impact – programs like his lakefront "command center" or "boot camp".
Thankfully, the grown ups with the Sheriff's Deputies Assoc. and County Board were able to restore some funding and prevented a major layoff which would have taken Deputies out of our neighborhoods and parks and put them in the unemployment line.
Everything can be traced back to the fact that our funding mechanism is completely and utterly broken. As long as we remain over reliant on a property tax to fund the services we all rely on, this cycle of tax increases coupled with service decreases will continue.