Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele released his budget vetoes early Tuesday morning, removing the $6.25 million in additional levy spending the County Board added to his proposed 2012 budget.
Abele’s proposed 2012 budget froze the tax levy at 2011 levels, fulfilling his campaign pledge that he would not increase taxes in his first budget.
Abele cut $722,527 from the board’s proposed $1.5 million subsidy to the Emergency Medical Services subsidy to the county municipalities. He had originally proposed to completely cut the $3 million payment to communities to cover training and personnel costs for paramedic services, but the board restored $1.5 million to the program during last week’s hearing.
“The municipalities have raised concerns about eliminating the subsidy in one year,” Abele said in his partial veto memo. “I have listened to their concerns and will support continuing a portion of that subsidy in 2012, as a transition to ending the subsidy completely in 2013.”
He added that the budget will continue $4.3 million of funding to municipal EMS to support the communications center, initial and on-going paramedic training, medical oversight, hospital coordination, medical record maintenance, quality assurance, administration and limited billing subsidy and selling medical supplies.
“This represents my strong support for municipal EMS services,” Abele said.
He also vetoed the board’s new distribution plan formula, which would have funneled more of the EMS subsidy to departments that had cooperative service delivery in place, and to eliminate the board’s plan to end the existing EMS contract between the municipalities and county to put in place a “take it or leave it” policy for receipt of funds.
“I do not believe it is appropriate for the Board to invalidate a contract and allocation formula that has been negotiated and agreed to by the individual municipalities,” Abele said.
Abele also vetoed the board’s use of the tax levy to restore 27 deputy sheriff positions and 2 deputy sheriff sergeants. The cut would take $1,551,991 off the levy.
Abele said he would rather see any wage and benefit concessions made by the Deputy Sheriff’s Association be used to pay for the restoration of these positions, which are in the Sheriff’s Tactical Enforcement Unit and Park Patrol programs. The DSA has tentatively agreed to a plan that could restore up to 60 of the 133 positions Abele initially cut in his budget proposal.
The County Board was planning on taking up the DSA’s contract concessions next week when it addresses Abele’s vetoes.
Abele also vetoed $2 million in bond financing for HVAC repairs to the Kosciuszko and King community centers, saying the board’s action ignored the county’s process for prioritizing capital projects and repairs.
He vetoed an attempt by the board to set the Parks Department budget through 2016 by setting a minimum spending level for the services. Abele said such a move ties the hands of future boards and executives, who will need to make budget decisions on an annual, not four-year, basis.
In response to an amendment spearheaded by County Board Chairman Lee Holloway to eliminate an IT-Business Development position, Abele restored it and its $136,540 salary and benefits. Holloway said the position was budgeted to the wrong department, since the person performing the duties was actually working directly with Abele. Holloway said last week that if Abele wants this person in his office, he should pay for it in the executive budget.
Abele said by restoring the position, there will be someone to analyze current business process, principle and practices of county departments and divisions.
“This positions benefits taxpayers by making recommendations to assist in determining which county business areas would most benefit from operational improvement,” he said.