Whither MKE Cnty: Part Time Boards In Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has gotten solidly behind State Representative (former county board supervisor) Joe Sanfelippo’s move to reduce the Milwaukee County Board to a part time entity. Rep. Sanfelippo’s binding referendum would reduce supervisor salaries to $15,000 per year without any benefits. MJS and many other commenters have compared MKE County to the other 71 counties in the state and Los Angeles County. But they never actually go into a comparison of those counties to MKE nor delve into a discussion of the services they provide. We’ll try to get to that this week.

One of the issues I have with Rep. Sanfelippo’s proposal is the specific salary dollars attached to his referendum and the denial of benefits to supervisors. It would seem that the referendum would be better served as two questions similar to the municipal advisory referendi, asking if the board should be downsized to nine and/or should the board be part time.

Let’s do a quick comparison of the suggested proposal from Rep. Sanfelippo compared to the similarly situated part time board, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors!

Milwaukee Board of School Directors: Nine Directors, eight represent geographic districts and the ninth is an at large seat and is elected by a citywide vote. The MPS School Board is a part time board. Members are paid $18,000 per year and are eligible to participate in the MPS health and dental programs. The population of Milwaukee at 2010 was 594,832. So each district board member represents 74,354 Milwaukee residents. The MPS budget proposed for 2013 was $1.168 billion. The MPS board is responsible for the Milwaukee Public Schools and school administration is handled by the Superintendent who is hired by the board. MPS Board and committee meetings are held weekday evenings at the MPS Central Office building but board members attend many other school and community events as well as holding town hall meetings.

Milwaukee County Supervisors: Currently 18 supervisors represent the approximate 52.651 residents in their district assuming 947,735 county residents per the 2010 Census. The proposal would pay each supervisor $15,000 per year and NO access to benefits. The proposed Milwaukee County budget for 2013 was $1.348 billion. The board works with the various elected officers in the county government including the County Executive, Sheriff, Register of Deeds, County Treasurer, Comptroller, District Attorney, Circuit Courts and generally handles constituent issues and questions. County Board and Committee meetings are held during the day at the County Courthouse. County Supervisors hold town hall meetings and the community expects them to attend any number of civic and social meetings and events.

In my opinion, both MPS School Board members and MKE County Supervisors spend more time in the community than their compensation packages would indicate. And the community is getting a real value for their tax dollar.

A little side note: if you are so inclined to comment on any of my blogs about MKE County government, I’d appreciate if you’d indicate if you are a county resident or not

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