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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Making a Splash

Wisconsin, Political, County Board, Quality of Life

Talk about making a splash.  Newly sworn-in Rep. Joe SanFelippo (R-West Allis) is proposing a bill that would require a binding referendum to be held in April that would cut Milwaukee County Board supervisor’s pay to $15,000 a year and that would limit the total County Board budget to ¼ of 1%.

He has been trying to get this done from inside the County Board and now is a member of the Wisconsin Assembly.  Many probably expected him to quit the crusade but he has done nothing of the sort.  He has ‘amped’ up his effort from his new platform.

Milwaukee County Board members have long collected what most would consider being a full-time salary for what most would also consider being part-time work.  Supervisors now get paid $50,679 a year and the Board Chairperson gets paid more than $71,000 per year.  They also earn pension benefits and have health insurance coverage.  The Milwaukee County Board budget is now about $6.5 Million and would drop to about $1 Million.

This is being framed as a Republican-driven proposal but the Milwaukee County Executive, Chris Abele, is a solid proponent of SanFelippo’s effort and is hardly what one could call a Republican.  Abele and the Board Chairperson, Marina Dimitrijevic, have been at odds since she was elected to her new position.

This could ultimately have implications for other County Boards according to Dimitrijevic, and that would probably be a reference locally to Waukesha and Washington Counties among others with Waukesha County paying its Board Chair some $58,586 per year and Washington County paying its Chair $35,820.  There have been efforts by some members of both those boards aimed at reducing costs of county government.

In effect, this bill would set the requirement for a binding referendum rather than actually setting the compensation levels.  That could probably be transported into other county jurisdictions if members of state government from other counties saw this as a tool that fit their own situation.  That having been said, many of those now in office at the state level have very strong ties to their county officials and would be threatening any ‘good old boys’ or girls’ club’ that might exist.

Governor Walker would be put in an interesting situation given his history as Milwaukee County Executive before running for and being elected to the Governorship (twice as I recall).

There are not too many SanFelipos out there in all likelihood, so this approach may not grow any legs elsewhere.

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