Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele has released his proposed 2014 County Budget, and it’s certainly a mixed bag.
Abele’s budget proposes 2% wage increases for non-union workers next year, but those employees will also be required to pay more for health insurance coverage. Considering county employees already pay nearly 25% of the costs of their health benefits, that’s no small thing, and I’m willing to bet the “raise” Abele is proposing for County employees will be the same kind of phantom raise many State employees received earlier this year. In other words, I wouldn’t be surprised if the “raise” County employees receive will be completely gobbled up by their increased health insurance costs, as was the case for State employees who received a 1% “raise” earlier this year only to see that raise vanish after increased health insurance and pension costs were factored in.
Here are some other key provisions of Abele’s proposed 2014 budget.
- Re-introduction of a$1.2 million program to have local police departments patrol county parks.
- Property tax levy to the same $279.3 million as in 2013.
- $350,000 for an expansion of the Milwaukee Police Department’s SpotShotter gunshot location equipment (to be placed near County parks).
- $7.1 million to upgrade emergency radio from analog to digital.
- Adding nine deputies for courtroom security.
- Providing new security scanners for checkpoints at courthouse and Safety Building entrances.
- Adding seven new investigators for the district attorney’s office.
- Installation of a new security system at the Mental Health Complex.
While there are certainly some promising provisions in County Executive Abele’s budget, his proposal to require County workers to pay more towards their health insurance costs – considering they already contribute close to 25% – is something I’d expect from Scott Walker, because it’s exactly what Scott Walker did to State employees.