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Analysis: County Employees Could Pay More for Health Care Under Proposed Budget

Philip Taylor PT, Flickr

Mayor Tom Barrett and County Executive Chris Abele have both issued their proposed budgets for the coming fiscal year, and debate on those documents is underway.

The non-partisan Public Policy Forum this week issued its analyses of the proposals.  President Rob Henken says that there are three common issues facing the proposed city and county budgets:

  1. The very large employer pension contribution that crowd out other needs
  2. The aging infrastructure, such as the streets and buildings
  3. Stagnant, if not declining, state and federal aid

Milwaukee County Budget

Henken says the Milwaukee County budget proposal utilizes Act 10, the state law which grants the county flexibility to unilaterally implement changes to healthcare offerings to its employees. Employees will be contributing around $63 million to their health care.  County employees will also see an increase in premiums, and their flexible spending account that was contributed to by the county will go away.

City of Milwaukee Budget

Henken praises budget planners from 2010, due to what he calls their insight in predicting the economy. That budget had created the foreclosure initiative, which put $11 million towards combating foreclosures, and the replacement cycles for the city’s aging infrastructure. The 2014 budget will show a gradual decrease in the pension fund and an increase in the property tax levy.

Future Problems

Looking ahead at future budgets, Henken says the city officials must take four potential problems into consideration:

  1. Leveling of employee contribution to health care
  2. Health care savings for the local governments will shrink
  3. Increasing city infrastructure maintenance, such as for roads and buildings
  4. The budgets’ elasticity may not rise to the challenges of the national economy.