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Budget Brief: Milwaukee County 2016 Executive Budget

Our analysis of the 2016 Milwaukee County recommended budget finds that the County is making substantial headway in its long and grueling march from perennial financial crisis to relative fiscal normalcy. However, that progress prompts questions regarding a substantial draw from County reserves and potential creation of a new hole in the Sheriff's budget.

Highlights of our analysis include the following:

  • The County's ability to reduce health care expenditures and debt service obligations allowed the County Executive to spare most departments from cuts while accommodating a $20 million increase in the County's pension fund contribution.
  • Despite that good news, the County will continue to face fierce fiscal pressure from its pension fund liabilities and its immense infrastructure needs, as well as the likelihood that enormous health care savings produced by earlier plan redesign soon will run their course.
  • Decisions to withdraw $17.3 million from County reserves and include a $9.8 million lump sum reduction in the Sheriff's budget could erode the substantial financial progress made by the County in recent years and should be considered in that context.
  • The substantial increase in funding for transit operations and new buses is impressive in light of competing needs, but it may not be sustainable shows as pressures on the transit budget continue to grow.

This report is the second of two budget briefs we released this week. To read our 2016 City of Milwaukee Budget Brief click here.


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Media Coverage

"Milwaukee County Board Expected to Get an Earful at Budget Hearing"

"Analysis Shows City, County Budgets Propose Modest Changes"
WUWM Lake Effect

"Report: County's budget stays in check despite pension fund spike"
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel