Milwaukee County Screws Taxpayers Again

Wow. This is stunningly bad.

The Milwaukee Art Museum would become the owner of its buildings on the Lake Michigan shore, as well as Milwaukee County’s O’Donnell Park and its multilevel parking garage, in a deal valued at more than $28.8 million, officials said Tuesday.

The museum would take responsibility for up to $6 million worth of repairs on an O’Donnell Park priority list if the County Board approves the noncash transaction, museum director Dan Keegan said. The board will be asked to sign off on the deal at a March 17 meeting.

Here’re the operative details.

In the proposed transaction, the museum would end an 84-year lease with the county and take ownership of its buildings, including the lower level of the building that is home to the War Memorial Center. As the new owner, the museum would assume liability for their long-term maintenance and repairs, which is now the responsibility of the county and its taxpayers, according to Keegan.

That liability for the museum buildings is estimated to cost about $88 million over the next several decades, but its current value in today’s dollars is about $28.8 million, Keegan said.

This requires some context. A couple of years ago, Northwestern Mutual offered the county $14.4 million in cash. In that offer, NML would take over the property, revitalize it, and create green space. But the liberals on the board abhorred the thought of selling county property to a private interest, so they rejected the offer.

Now the county is GIVING the property to another private interest and that interest will take over maintenance, which NML would have done too. And the county is trying to spin this as a deal for taxpayers. So instead of the county getting $14.4 million in cash and absolving the taxpayers of future obligations, the taxpayers are getting nothing.

Are the county leaders this stupid or do they just think that we are?