Whither MKE Cnty: Abolish Municipal Governments

One of the continuing memes relating to reducing county supervisor salaries is the amount of money the county will save…approximately $850,000…which by the way is just under 90 cents per county resident.

And of course there is continued talk that county government is an unnecessary layer of government that doesn’t have many functions in the modern world…but if you look at the county website there are plenty of countywide services that county government supports that the local municipalities couldn’t perform more efficiently and probably can’t be relegated to the state…and there’s the pesky state constitution that establishes counties and the elected officials that run the county…not sure we could pull the plug on the county without a constitutional change…and that might stir up other counties who would also seem expendable.

But let’s get back to that savings. $850,000 out of a $1.348 billion county budget? Really? My computer calculator doesn’t even want to figure out the percentage. So lets face it, saving money isn’t the real issue…we’ll come back to that in another blog…but let’s say we are really interested in saving serious dollars and eliminating duplicative governmental services.

If you look at a map of the county divisions in Wisconsin, you will see that Milwaukee County is relatively small at 242 square miles…only two counties are smaller, rural Pepin and northern bedroom suburb, Ozaukee county…both at 232 square miles. And as has been stated many times, Milwaukee county has no unincorporated areas and the only first class city in the state, Milwaukee. So overall the county is fairly urban with some room to grow and shares many of the same issues although the suburbs and the city don’t always see eye to eye. But with under 950,000 residents the county would still make a fairly small city by US and World standards…puts us right below Dallas TX and ahead of San Jose CA…but…

BUT let’s save some real damn money…let’s upgrade the Milwaukee County board and Milwaukee County Executive to the chief legislative and executive branches of government in the county. Let’s abolish the 19 municipal governments that currently make up the county. 19 fewer mayors, common councils, police depts, fire depts, school boards, school systems, depts. of public works, health depts, sanitation depts, etc, etc, etc. (and yes I know that MKE county already has a number of consolidated schools and emergency services but you get the point).

And no, this isn’t a brave new world, similar situations exist in Nashville TN and Louisville KY and would make a lot of sense for an area like Milwaukee County.

So what do you think? Good bye Greefield, West Allis, Shorewood, Whitefish Bay? Hello Unified Milwaukee County?

1 comment to Whither MKE Cnty: Abolish Municipal Governments

  • Individual municipal entities are the only way residents of those communities would retain services at the level which they currently have. While you would have an ally in Sheriff David Clark, I don’t think that creating a county police department would be very popular. Were it to happen, Franklin would go from having its own police department to being designated as one or two patrol areas for county police cars. The remaining resources would get sucked into more crime infested areas of Milwaukee while doing little to lower taxes.

    I don’t think this is analogous to the current debate on whether to defang the county board or not. I could be persuaded otherwise if someone could demonstrate what value the board brings to the table, but the fact is they are typically asleep at the switch when it comes to looking out for average Milwaukeeans…unless you belong to certain unions.

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