Robin Vos’ Latest Stupid Idea!

Everyone including Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) admit that the state revenue sharing formula isn’t working. I discussed this a bit a few weeks ago.

Milwaukee now has a new generation of leadership and they don’t have the divisive political baggage of their predecessors. So Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley have done their homework and they’ve visited with the electeds in Madison, particularly Speaker Vos to make their points. And to his credit, Speaker Vos has talked with them and suggested that the state may visit improving shared revenue. And Vos said that he didn’t want to micro-manage the situation…and promptly started to.

First saying that the state officials didn’t like how the city and county spent their money and additional funds shouldn’t be provided if they didn’t change their ways. Certainly there are worthy discussions to be made but I elected my mayor and I elected my county exec and I am good with their current approaches to governance. And I did not elect Robin Vos! Just putting that out here.

But then Vos put out his latest bad idea. He suggested that the county and the city look for commonalities…programs they could share or combine…or outsource to private firms.

Outsourcing to private firms should never be on the table for government units and I am not going to go further down that road.

But combining county and city services? They are not equivalencies.

The county is a Constitutional sub-unit of state government. It has nothing in common with a town, village, or city. And the state can interfere with county government on a whim. The most recent example is former Governor Walker’s revenge on Milwaukee County Government and his perceived enemies by removing authorities and responsibilities from the county and changing the status of board members from full time to part time and reducing their salaries and eliminating their benefits. Not the same with cities…they have more local control.

But ignoring that bit of incontinence on Walker’s part…county and city governing is quite different and the services they provide are not equal. A County Sheriff’s Dept doesn’t work the same way or provide the same protections as a city police department. The County doesn’t provide public education. The County fire dept?? Not a city fire dept. Counties don’t do municipal trash pickup. Counties don’t do sewer and water. And the county facilities all get their water from the City of Milwaukee. Cities do libraries…county co-ordinates them…but the cities own them. County highway depts are quite different that city dept of public works. Counties do coroners, district attorneys, courts, and jails…essentially as an extensive of state powers. Cities do building inspections and real estate assessments and collects property taxes for all area taxing authorities including the county. That’s a quick list…but there are dozens more examples

Now, would some type of co-operative efforts or consolidations of city services be a good idea? Maybe. We already have regional fire depts on the North Shore of Milwaukee County and rural areas of Waukesha County. So maybe the better answer is combining city services with neighboring municipalities? Combine the police depts of Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, West Allis, Glendale, and St. Francis? Same with fire depts? A countywide school system? Many of these cities already rely on Milwaukee for fresh water and sewage treatment services.

Finding commonality within contiguous neighboring cities might be a money saver…but having a county and a city join forces is a non-starter. BUT whatever is decided or a undecided, it is time that the State of Wisconsin got their stuff together and fixed how state revenue is shared with local government.


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