Assembly passes bill calling for referendum on Co. Board reforms

MADISON (WITI) -- The state Assembly has passed a bill that will send an April 2014 referendum to Milwaukee County voters on cutting County Board supervisors’ pay in half and cut their budget by two-thirds.

If the referendum passes, supervisor pay would be reduced to around $24,000, health insurance and pension benefits would no longer exist and the county board budget would be reduced from $6 million to $2 million. The bill also calls for more accountability, reducing a supervisor’s term from four to two years beginning with the spring election in 2016.

Senator Leah Vukmir (R - Wauwatosa) says the measure will restore a balance that state legislators intended when they created the office of county executive, when supervisors were considered part-time.

“Milwaukee County supervisor compensation greatly exceeds that of any other county in Wisconsin. We’re looking forward to getting the Governor’s signature on this bill so we can get the referendum to the residents of Milwaukee County. This is ultimately about local control. The citizens of the county will have the final say on how the county board will operate," Vukmir said.

Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R - West Allis) has been in support of a referendum on County Board reforms, and released a statement following the passage of the bill by the Assembly on Wednesday.

“The referendum included in Assembly Bill 85 assures that the county board will be serving with the consent of the governed rather than at the pleasure of the politicians,” Rep. Sanfelippo said.

County Executive Abele released the following statement on Wednesday: “I applaud the Assembly for passing this important bill and I look forward to answering any other questions lawmakers may have as this bill moves to the Senate. I want to especially thank the Assembly leadership and State Representative Joe Sanfelippo for understanding how important this measure is to the taxpayers of Milwaukee County. This vote moves us closer to the shared goal of governance reform.” 

The bill heads to the Senate for a vote on May 14th.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, the Milwaukee County Board overrode County Executive Abele's veto of a plan for the Board to reform itself.

Board members plan on making changes to the reform plan. However, if a state bill is ultimately passed, it would override any County plan.

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