Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Tag: Milwaukee County

Enjoying the new year fireworks

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

The new year began with an entertaining spat between the conservative Washington County Executive Josh Schoemann and the liberal Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson. While amusing, the kerfuffle overstates the dissimilarities.


On New Year’s Day, Schoemann posted on X a snarky comment welcoming residents of Milwaukee County to Washington County to do their shopping and dining. The comment was a swipe at the fact that Milwaukee County increased the county sales tax by 0.9% on January 1. The city of Milwaukee increased the sales tax by 2%. In one day, people making purchases in the city of Milwaukee are paying 7.9% in sales taxes compared to 5.5% in Washington County.


Johnson shot back saying, “If folks are looking at a high-quality dinner or a theater or a fine dining experience, they can come here (Milwaukee), or go to Cracker Barrel there (Washington County).” Zing!


Liberal Milwaukee has become a high-tax island, and they appear to not have any intention of slowing down. In the wake of the 44% increase in the sales tax, Milwaukee city leaders are proposing a 15% pay increase for themselves. Included in the proposal is an automatic 3% increase for themselves every year in perpetuity.




Lest Washington County residents look with too much aspersion toward their neighbors to the southeast, some self-reflection is in order. Washington County also has a 0.5% county sales tax on top of the state sales tax. The county sales tax was sold to the voters in 1998 as a temporary emergency imperative for several critical capital expense needs related to public safety. The county sales tax has been extended every time – most recently in 2022 and 2017 with the vocal support of Schoemann.




What is the lesson to be learned? While Washington County and Milwaukee County are viewed as polar political opposites as highlighted by the rhetorical fusillade between Schoemann and Johnson, they are different more in degree than in substance. Yes, Milwaukee County is a tax hell, but Washington County is only slightly less fiery.


The other lesson is that when it comes to government spending, the politicians in charge will never, ever admit that they have enough to spend — never mind too much to spend. Politicians of all stripes derive their power from their ability to spend our money. The more they spend, the more power they have. It does not matter what they spend it on. That is not what it is about. It is about political power derived from wielding the public purse.


The sooner taxpayers take this lesson to heart, the sooner we can begin to shift the power back to the people.


Milwaukee County Supervisor Seen Shirtless on Zoom Call

From Bice. Honestly… bonehead mistake and he handled it with humor and humility. Funny story

Burgelis, who is running for a seat on the Milwaukee Common Council, briefly appeared shirtless during a livestream for the Milwaukee County Board’s Judiciary, Law Enforcement and General Services Committee on Dec. 4. The meeting was being held at the Milwaukee County Courthouse, while Burgelis monitored it virtually from home.


More than two hours into the meeting, the livestream showed Burgelis, a rookie supervisor, without clothes from his waist up for less than 10 seconds. His feed was cut off a little more than a minute after he first appeared bare-chested on the video.


He said he did have pants on.


“It’s embarrassing,” said Burgelis, a mortgage loan officer. “This was clearly not intentional, though I’m always eager to get more exposure for the county, my campaign or my social life.”


As it turns out, Burgelis isn’t even a member of this County Board committee. He said he was using his cellphone to watch what was going on with the panel while doing his laundry at home. He said he had taken off his shirt and tossed it in the wash.

Milwaukee County to Vote on Tax Increase

As sure as Chris Christie won’t pass on a free doughnut, yes, they will vote to increase taxes.

A special joint County Board committee recommended approval of the county tax increase with two key votes — a 5-0 vote by the personnel committee and 4-3 vote from the finance committee. Supervisors Sequanna Taylor, Steve F. Taylor and Juan Miguel Martinez voted against the hike.


With the committee approvals, the full Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors will take a final vote on July 27 on the measure, which would nearly double the current county sales tax from the existing 0.5% to 0.9%.

Milwaukee County Looks at Ways to Get Landlords to Rent to Section 8 Tenants

This is a good example of the power of incentives.

“If Milwaukee County cannot use a metaphorical stick to force landlords to accept tenants with a Section 8 voucher, then we should consider offering a carrot,” Rolland told the Journal Sentinel. “At the end of the day, Milwaukee County is healthier when everybody can find a safe place to live.”


The Section 8 tenant-based Housing Choice Voucher Program was designed to help with rental assistance for low-income residents and families with a family income of no more than 50% of the median income of the county, roughly $27,396, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.




In 2018, the County Board amended the County Code of General Ordinance about fair housing and included “receipt of rental or housing assistance” as a protected class.

“Big picture: the ordinance was well-intentioned, but after five years of it being in place we can see that renters were not getting the help that they needed,” Rolland said. “And today we know that punishments for landlords are unenforceable.”

Milwaukee County tried to force landlords to rent to Section 8 tenants and it failed. In the end, whatever minimal risk a landlord takes to avoid renting to Section 8 tenants is outweighed by the potential risk of renting to them.

What the politicians fail to understand is why many landlords avoid renting to Section 8 tenants. We all know why… you can identify the apartments in town that accept Section 8 tenants. They tend to be the ones that are the most run down and trashy. They are the apartments that we encourage our adult children to avoid.

Why? Because many (not all) Section 8 tenants treat their apartments like crap. They don’t care for it and often leave it damaged when they leave.

Why? Because they aren’t using their own money to pay for it. The tenant lacks the pride of ownership, even if it is rented, that comes with paying for something with money that he or she earned through the sweat of their brow or firing of neurons. There is no incentive for the tenant to care for the apartment because it costs them nothing to treat it like crap. Thus, many landlords avoid them because the landlords do bear the costs of damage and neglect.

So let’s follow the train of thought… if Milwaukee County creates a bundle of financial incentives for landlords to accept Section 8 tenants, it will likely work for some. More landlords will accept Section 8 housing. Why? Because they are no longer bearing the burden and cost of damage and neglect to their properties. That burden will shift to the taxpayers who are funding the incentives.

So in the end, the taxpayer becomes the forgotten man who bears all of the risks and costs and derives none of the benefits. The tenants benefit from subsidized rents. The landlords benefit from both the additional tenants and the additional incentives. The taxpayer is paying both bills plus their own rent.

Thus spins the flywheel of ever-growing government.

Milwaukee County Board Approves New $30 Wheel Tax

Because taxes just aren’t high enough.

Milwaukee County vehicle owners will begin paying an annual $30 wheel tax next year, as part of a $1.1 billion spending plan for 2017 approved Monday by the County Board.

The county property tax levy for 2017 will rise 1.43%, or $4 million, to $291.07 million, to help pay for county government next year. The total levy is $96,286 less than the amount included in County Executive Chris Abele’s recommended 2017 budget, according to Steve Cady, research and policy director in the Comptroller’s Office.

The tax rate needed to generate the levy falls slightly from around $5.12 per $1,000 of equalized value this year to $5.08 for 2017, Cady said. Other revenue sources include direct charges for services, a county sales tax, state aid, state shared revenue payments, federal grants, bond proceeds and grants from private sources.

On a 10-7 vote, the board approved a $30 vehicle registration fee ordinance during its annual budget adoption meeting.

Property taxes up… new tax on cars… increasing spending with no additional value by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour… boy, that’s a kick in the crotch for Milwaukee County taxpayers.

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?

Former Milwaukee Airport Director Opines on MKE County Leadership

He reveals what all of us who live here already know… Milwaukee County is dysfunctional.

Q: Did going away give you more of an appreciation for Dayton?

A:”Before I left, people here did a lot to try to keep me. So I knew I was leaving a good situation to go up there, to go to a bigger airport. I think the perspective I got from being in Milwaukee is just how much easier it is to get things done (in Dayton). We have a city commission and mayor, good leadership, that’s on the same page. You don’t have a lot of infighting. Up there, they had a board of supervisors that are at each others throats. It was a completely different political environment.”

Q: How tough was the decision to leave and come back, both personally and professionally?

A: “It was hard, but it was the right thing for me to do for my family. Also, the situation up there wasn’t a good environment for me. I didn’t have a lot of autonomy. I was being pretty heavily managed by my boss. I’ll be curious to see how they fill that job because I think they’re going to have a hard time getting a professional airport director who is seasoned. They really had a lot of ideas about what they wanted that I just don’t think fit our business.”



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