Monday, August 07, 2006

Budget 'at the bone,' sheriff

asks $600,000 to remodel office

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke says he will make his case to County Exec Scott Walker today that his department needs a cost of living budget increase because his department is "at the bone" and can't reduce spending any farther, the Journal Sentinel reports.

But that didn't stop Clarke from submitting a capital budget request for a $600,000 remodeling job to spruce up his own office. You could do a lot of sprucing for $600,000.

Clarke has been claiming poverty and has had his hand out a lot lately.

When Gov. Jim Doyle gave the City of Milwaukee $200,000 in state aid to help fund more police overtime and $500,000 for a teen summer jobs program, Clarke asked Doyle for $700,000 more for the sheriff's department -- and asked the state patrol to take over patrolling freeways in the county, for which the state is already paying the county $3-million a year.

No surprise that the request didn't fly.

As the county tries to scrape together whatever it can for the 2007 budget, Clarke says that if Walker insists he will cut his budget 5% from this year's, but didn't say how.

His Democratic primary opponent, Vince Bobot, has been critical of Clarke, the JS says, for
submitting a budget proposal in June to Walker that went along with a $3.1 million cut without identifying how it would be achieved.

Bobot says Clarke has harmed public safety during his four-year tenure by reducing freeway patrols, eliminating support for victim-witness services and reducing the number of parks patrols...

Clarke's budget proposal in June promised a $5 million cut in detention services, an area that includes the Milwaukee County Jail, as well as medical services for jail and House of Correction inmates.

Pressed Friday for details, Clarke at first said it was too early to say. Later he said advances in technology in medical record keeping could be the key.
Clarke subscribes to the Rep. Mark Green school of budgeting -- big promises, no details.

The capital budget request to remodel Clarke's office asks for $300,000 in 2007 and another $300,000 in 2008 to convert the existing conference room into offices and a smaller meeting room, convert the locker room to office and storage space, and relocate the entrance to the sheriff's office.

Clarke defenders will say that capital budgets and operating budgets are two different things, and that you can't move money from one to the other. That's true. You can't take $600,000 from the palatial office project and move it to park patrol, unfortunately.

But regardless of which budget it's in, the money comes from the same place -- county taxpayers. While Clarke is pleading poverty, cutting programs that could improve community safety, and posing for holy pictures on his operating budget restraint, he's quietly asking the taxpayers to remodel his own office. It may need it, but right now, with the county in dire financial straits, it's hard to think it's a priority.

UPDATE: Gretchen Schuldt has a creative, sure-fire idea on how the county could raise some extra money.


At 7:47 PM, Blogger XOut said...

I think Gretchen is on to something... does she work in Doyle's Department of Administration... are they really considering selling the naming rights to the calendar.

Liberal satire is an odd thing because it seems like a contradiction in terms most of the time.

Honestly though, the smartest thing Walker could do is sell the County to the Indian Casino's -- he would scads of campaign cash and unburden the taxpayers from those awful pension plans and free health plans that your liberal pals gave away to the bureaucrats.

At 4:09 PM, Blogger appleton14 said...

Unfortunately, the Indian Casinos have already purchased Gov. Jim Doyle. Do you think they have enough money to buy Milwaukee County? Yeah, they probably do. By the way, does anybody know if Tom Ament has been tarred and feathered and run out of Milwaukee County yet? If not, why not?


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