With the state budget complete, cities and counties are set to begin work on their fiscal plans for the coming year. The City of Milwaukee holds a preliminary budget hearing later this week.
At the County level, the budget process will play out with new leadership. Milwaukee County Board Supervisor Theodore Lipscomb was recently elected to chair the board, replacing Marina Dimitrijevic.
Lipscomb represents the 1st District, which includes Bayside, Brown Deer, Fox Point, Glendale, River Hills and parts of Milwaukee. He comes to the leadership post at a challenging time for the board, which has seen its status – and pay – reduced to part-time.
"I think at the end of the day, citizens recognize that the power isn't just being taken away from the county board, the power is being taken away from them," Lipscomb says. "They no longer have the same access to their representative, their representative can't speak for them in the same manner."
Lipscomb says that no representative is going to be able to put in the time and effort required. It is simply not practical to expect forty or more hours a week to be put into county policies and budgets when board members have other jobs and families to take care of, he says.
"We're literally in a scenario where the chairperson in Waukesha county, of 300,000 people, make more than a chairperson in Milwaukee County with a million," Lipscomb says. "What does that tell the citizens about how they can be represented?"