Melissa Moore Baldauff
MILWAUKEE – Affordable, reliable transit and investments in services that empower people are among the community’s highest priorities.
That’s according to the feedback the Milwaukee County Office of Performance, Strategy, and Budget has received so far from users of A Balancing Act, an interactive budgeting tool that County Executive Chris Abele launched last month as part of his Engage Milwaukee initiative.
Engage Milwaukee is a hands-on, first-of-its-kind community outreach and education campaign on the budget that goes beyond the typical budget input process. After balancing their own County budget using real numbers and potential policy decisions, users have the opportunity to anonymously share what they believe is the biggest issue facing Milwaukee County.
“A public transit system that continues to scale with the city, and reach out into suburbs to reduce everyone’s dependence on vehicles. Sustainability and renewable energy are the broader goals to take on,” said one user. “Transit, people without cars can’t get to work,” said another.
“Transportation costs. We need to continue to support individuals who are homeless and living with disabilities,” another contributor commented.
Community members also cited public safety, workforce development, healthcare costs, declining state revenue, and unsustainable pension costs among the biggest issues facing the County.
“There’s no question that Milwaukee County has plenty of challenges and opportunities that warrant an investment of resources. But the reality is we can’t spend all the money we would like on every program and service — these are hard choices,” County Executive Chris Abele said. “Precisely because these choices are hard and our budget is particularly difficult this year, I wanted to start a conversation with the community earlier than ever, and in a more meaningful way. I’m so encouraged by the thoughtful feedback we’ve received from Engage Milwaukee contributors who have balanced their own budget for the County.”