Walker signs law making big changes to Milwaukee Co. Board

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Governor Scott Walker signed a new law Friday, May 31st, giving the County Executive the power to make decisions regarding county government.

"More than a decade has passed since that original debate in '02 about reform. There has been plenty of discussion about this, instead of leaving it up to the county board. We're going to do something even more local than that, we're going to empower the voters," said  Governor Walker.

Under the new law, supervisors will lose control of day-to-day operations, and next April voters will decide if supervisors' pay should be cut to just over $20,000 a year.

"It was poorly drafted. That's what happens when the state tries to micromanage local government," said County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic. "When you cut out the representative legislative branch, you reduce the power of the people."

Dimitrijevic is calling the new law a power grab by current County Executive Chris Abele. She also says the upcoming vote is misleading.

"I've heard a lot of residents thinking they have a vote in this entire bill, but they don't," says Dimitrijevic.

Abele says the new law lets county government run the way it was intended to.

"This is not the end of democracy.  It's not the end of checks and balances, it's not the end of appropriate representation," says Abele.

Abele says the law allows the County Executive to manage operations while supervisors set the policy he is supposed to follow.

Dimitrijevic says with supervisors' power being slashed, a lawsuit may not be out of the question.

"I think there is going to be a lot of legal questions. We're retaining legal council and we're going to look it line by line," says Dimitrijevic.