Milwaukee County supervisors to see salaries cut in 2016

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee County supervisors will see their salaries cut as a result of a referendum on Tuesday's ballot. Voters overwhelmingly approved the measure -- and now the County Board is reacting.

"They have seen us in action, and unfortunately a lot of the times that we did get notoriety, it was negative and we brought it on ourselves," said Supervisor Mark Borkowski.

Voters approved the referendum by an overwhelming 71 percent vote. It slashes supervisors' salaries from more than $50,000 a year to about $24,000 -- making them part-time workers. They will also lose pensions and benefits. The move will save Milwaukee County taxpayers $500,000 a year.

Supervisor Borkowski says he and his fellow board members have only themselves to blame.

"We've done some things, we've self-inflicted. We've hurt ourselves," said Borkowski.

Supervisor David Bowen was a vocal opponent of the measure. He says the low voter turnout means the county's voice wasn't fully heard at the ballot box.

"It's misrepresenting to say that the whole county was just opposed on a 71 to 29 percentage. Clearly there were some people who were engaged, but a lot of people weren't engaged," said Bowen.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is a strong supporter of the reforms.

"What 71 percent shows is people want a part-time board and a board that reflects the community a bit more directly, and is more directly connected not a full-time job," said Abele.

"The rhetoric then was 'what does Democracy look like?' It would be a referendum by the people. We got a referendum by the people and it says the County Board should change the way it does business," said Supervisor Deanna Alexander.

The cuts take effect after the spring elections in 2016.