Two proposals were put forth today from a few different Milwaukee County Supervisors wanting to "reform" themselves before the State does it by cutting their pay. I don't have a ton of time to comment on the specifics of each one, but do find it interesting that two of the more conservative members of the Board suddenly favor a reduction in the number of Supervisors.
The 18-member Milwaukee County Board would pare itself by five members, to 13, and cut the board's budget by 40%, under a reform plan proposed Tuesday.
Such a shift would accomplish more to change county government and work better than a legislative proposal to slash supervisor salaries and subject the board to a more drastic budget cut, said Supervisor Steve F. Taylor. He and Supervisor Mark Borkowski endorsed the plan.
Taylor said he expected there would be strong support among supervisors for a self-imposed downsizing, though details would have to be worked out later.
"Yes, we want to do things ourselves, do it here and do it quick," Taylor said. He said the actual number of board seats eliminated would be determined through debate by the full board, but the reduction must be "significant." – jsonline
Even if it were to get the support of the rest of the Supervisors – a monumental task considering the reluctance of wanting to run against fellow Supervisors in smaller/combined districts – it's nothing more than a delay tactic. It would take a considerable amount of time for something like that to move through the Board process, it's committees, impact studies, etc. There would also have to be special permission given by the State to do this since we just redistricted the boundaries of Supervisors two years ago.
But it would be long enough for some Supervisors to make a run for another office, which to be honest, is the goal of some of our current Supervisors. Even considering a plan to knock the number of Supervisor down to 13 would pass, it would be immediately – and rightly – contested in court for cutting out the representation of minority voters. This has happened in the past when the number of elected officials has been cut or moved, and it would surely happen again.
Meaning that after years of debate and a slow moving process to cut the Board, all the "reform" would be nullified and we'd be back at "Go".
The second proposal is more of a press release pontification than anything substantial, although I do give Sup. Alexander credit for trying, it's generally helpful to have at least conducted talks with State lawmakers before putting out a press release asking them to audit Milwaukee County:
Milwaukee County Supervisor Deanna Alexander added a new wrinkle Wednesday to the debate over whether the County Board should be scaled back in size, pay or both: She wants the state to audit the structure of county government.
She favors fast action on county reform, Alexander said, but wants an independent look at county government to help officials make the best decisions.
"It will be helpful to the state, the county and our public to have a real look at the roles and budgets of the County Board and county executive as we all continue the public discussion on reform," Alexander said in a statement.
The co-chairman of the legislative panel that decides what audits get done was not optimistic a county audit could be done any time soon. Other pressing state audits take precedence, said state Sen. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay), a leader of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. – jsonline
I would simply add that another time consuming audit of County Government isn't the answer at this point. As the article points out, audits have been conducted several times over the past few years already. Going through another lengthy audit to reconfirm what others have found doesn't seem like the "reform" we need right now.
I would simply reiterate that in my opinion, what County Government doesn't need any more of right now is lengthy studies, task forces, advisory committee's, or town hall meetings. People know what needs to get done, and as referendums in 12 other Milwaukee County municipalities have proven, they want it done.