Milwaukee County Board Chair Dimitrijevic offers alternative Board reform plan

I know I’m a little slow on the uptake with this, but the Milwaukee County Board reform plan proposed by County Board Chair Marina Dimitrijevic is worth mentioning.

According to reports, Dimitrijevic offered her plan as an alternative to legislation by state Republican State Rep. Joe Sanfelippo and Republican State Sen. Alberta Darling that would cut the board’s budget by two-thirds and limit the board’s authority on contracts, land sales and labor negotiations. The Sanfelippo/Darling plan would also order a binding referendum in April 2014 on whether County Supervisor salaries should be cut by about 50% to $24,000.

Dimitrijevic’s plan includes cutting the board’s budget by $2.7 million, cutting supervisor pay by 20% and trimming half the board’s 38 staff positions, and both plans would cut supervisors’ terms to two years instead of four.

As reported by Urban Milwaukee, other reforms contained in Dimitrijevic’s plan include:

  • Definition and clarification of roles and responsibilities of both the Board and the County Executive, which agree the Board is a policy-making body and the County Executive is manager of day-to-day operations, with mandatory training for supervisors.
  • Creation of an independent Office of Intergovernmental Relations, which will report to both the County Executive and the County Board Chair. Changes to contracting policy.
  • Requirement of an efficiency audit for all levels of County government and use of a mediator to enforce those efficiencies. Recommendations for additional efficiency measures in governance and operations. Follow-through on the efficiency audit for additional governance measures and County-wide operational efficiency measures.
  • Transfer of the Community Development Business Partners department from the Board to the independent office of the County Comptroller.
  • There would be no future pension benefit provided to Supervisors unless they choose to pay the full-cost beginning with the 2016 term

At the risk of losing even more standing among many of my peers in the blogosphere here in Southeastern Wisconsin, I’m going to express a fair dose of skepticism about the reform plan proposed by Marina Dimitrijevic. On its face, Dimitrijevic’s reform plan seems like a reasonable way to move forward with reforms, but the timing of its release is what bothers me. After all, Marina Dimitrijevic was first elected to the County Board more than a decade ago, and the closest she’s ever come to supporting “reform” of the County Board was when she pushed to eliminate the seat held by former Supervisor Joe Rice during redistricting, and as Dimitrijevic herself stated publicly, she only wanted to get rid of Rice’s seat because it would remove a conservative from the County Board.

Dan Cody has some thoughts of his own on the reform plan put forward by Marina Dimitrijevic.


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11 thoughts on “Milwaukee County Board Chair Dimitrijevic offers alternative Board reform plan

  1. So honestly, I am not entirely sure what is so entirely broken with the county board. I have lived in Milwaukee County for about a dozen years now and every problem I have seen really lands on the desk of the County Executive, not the board. I moved here just in time for the Ament scandal, then we had an eternity of Walker and his half assed governance resulting in utterly predictable lawsuits and tax payer losses and now we have Abele, who is also no prize winner in my estimation. Our county board supervisors in Milwaukee represent 5 times as many people as any other Wisconsin County Supervisor and much more extensive services than probably 70 other counties in the state and I am personally quite happy to pay a full time salary to my county supervisor. If reform were important to county residents I think a platform of reform would be winning elections and it doesn’t seem to be doing that in Milwaukee County.

    1. Paul, you might want to look at what folks in Milwaukee County have had to say about reforming the County Board, because every time there’s been a referendum on downsizing the board, voters have said they support downsizing.

      In April 2013, a large majority of voters in 12 communities in Milwaukee County cast votes in favor of downsizing and making the County Board part time, so clearly reform is important to a lot of voters in Milwaukee County.

      1. I attended three of the OUR Milwaukee County listening sessions…and those in opposition to Assembly Bill 85 far outnumbered those in favor…as my blogs here will attest. This thing has fully played out yet…but I don’t think the final result is going to make anyone happy.

  2. Okay, so in some of the communities there is an impulse to reform the board, but that doesn’t exactly explain the reasoning. What is it that has people convinced the board is broken? Is it just about money and hating taxes or is there some serious corruption I have totally missed? I’ve lived with Chris Larson and Jason Haas, so I have had no complaints.

  3. Shocker that the two bloggers that Abele bought off are supporting taking away the county board’s ability to check the executive’s abuse of power.

    1. Who and how did Abele buy off exactly? If you’re going to accuse someone of being bought you should provide some proof or detail.

      1. Dan, it’s pretty clear he’s referring to you and I, because anyone who dares to disagree with the County Board’s position on this must have been bought off by Chris Abele.

  4. I think the most, important question is the placement of a comma. But you’re right!

    Busted! I’ll admit it myself and save my family the shame of an anonymous blog commenter outing my egregious behavior and sell-outedness. I sold out for a retweet and a $5 Amazon gift card. I don’t know if Zach got two retweets himself. Looking back, I should have asked for a “Follow Friday” reference!

    Now I am bound by the perpetual shackles of servitude to the County Executive as a result. He controls me absolutely.

    I am a storm trooper to his Darth Vader. A Starscream to his Megatron. Nothing more than a Mr. Belvedere to his Bob Uecker, now bound in eternity to carry out his will by posting blog comments!

    1. I didn’t get two retweets; all I got for selling out was a Jell-O pudding cup and a plastic fork.

      However, the reward was well worth all the lackeying I’ve been doing.

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