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Milwaukee County Executive Releases 2017 Budget Proposal

Chris Abele Presents $1.19B 2017 Budget Proposal To County Board

Downtown Milwaukee
Jeramey Jannene (CC-BY)

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele proposed a $1.19 billion 2017 budget to the county board Monday. The county is facing a $15 million deficit compared to 2016.

Abele proposed plans to help people with disabilities find employment and pledged to increase funding for training to help address the opioid epidemic.

He has also proposed an annual $60 vehicle registration fee, also known as a wheel tax, which was presented to the board for the first time. Supervisor Peggy West said the tax is just another burden.

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“The city of Milwaukee really takes a licking with this county wheel tax because we are already paying twice,” West said. “This would be the third time now that we’re being asked to pay a wheel tax.”

Abele said a tiered system in which different cars are taxed at different rates is something he’d support, but it would require statutory change by the state Legislature.

Abele also proposed increasing funding to the Office of African American Affairs. Supervisor Michael Mayo Sr. said he is not on board with putting more money into the office because he said there has been nothing to show for it. He did have praise for one part of Abele’s budget.

“I want to thank you,” Mayo said. “If there’s one part of your budget I do agree with, is what you’re doing for Sherman Park and for the residents and for the people in Sherman Park. I will work very hard on our behalf.”

Abele’s proposal included an investment of $665,000 to Milwaukee neighborhoods with the highest poverty rates and an additional investment in more opportunities for career development at the Boys and Girls Club in Sherman Park.

In August, Sherman Park experienced civil unrest after the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Sylville Smith, who is black, by a police officer. Milwaukee police have said Smith pointed a gun at the black officer.

Mayo offered to meet with Abele and requested that he be more accessible moving forward while working on the budget. He said it should be a joint effort between the executive and the board.