It has been a pleasure to serve as Chairwoman of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors for these past 100 days. Working collaboratively and with a spirit of unity, the County Board has made notable progress in a number of areas. We have heard your desire for Milwaukee County to create jobs, pay down debt, increase transparency and enhance cooperation with the County Executive and our 19 municipalities.
These are shared goals, and I am proud to report on progress to date.
Job creation and economic development are among my top priorities. We have invested $1 million into a Ready to Work initiative to put more people back to work on construction projects, reached out to small businesses and broken ground on the MSOE Athletic facility in the former Park East corridor.
Recently, we authorized negotiations for the redevelopment of the Downtown Transit Center site. While the Administration and members of the Board initially disagreed on the process, we’re now moving forward. The County Board came together to open up the process, ensure jobs for minorities and women, and protect taxpayers.
My colleagues on the Board consistently show fiscal responsibility and a focus on the future, so we can all continue to enjoy great Milwaukee County services, such as transit and our award-winning parks. Last month, the Board demonstrated leadership on debt reduction by voting to use a portion of the 2011 budget surplus to pay down some of the County’s high-interest debt, saving taxpayers more than $400,000 in next year’s budget alone.
This Board also is committed to public engagement. In September, the Board will launch the second phase of the County Legislative Information Center (CLIC), giving public access to live and archived video from all County Board and Committee meetings. On Thursday, September 6, we will host the Milwaukee County Courthouse Open House from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
We have launched the first-ever official Facebook and Twitter pages for this office, hired bilingual staffers and are always working to achieve the greatest level of communication possible with the Executive Branch. I am proud that County Executive Abele and I worked together to appoint an MATC Board that reflects the diverse Milwaukee County Community.
Even though the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council narrowly voted against allowing me a vote to participate more closely, I continue to engage residents of all 19 municipalities in Milwaukee County. My Chat with the Chair initiative, in which I am taking the bus hundreds of miles to visit every city and village in the County, has attracted more than 100 people to listening sessions in Franklin, Fox Point, St. Francis and Brown Deer. We are planning August Chats in Wauwatosa, Glendale and Oak Creek. This is a clear example of cooperation.
I’m looking forward to opportunities presented in my next 100 days as Chairwoman. We will work to deliver a 2013 Budget that is fiscally and socially responsible. I will unveil the next step in our sustainability initiative, Green Print 2.0, which will build off our past success in leaving a better Milwaukee County for our children. On your behalf, we also will fight to encourage the State to grant the dedicated transit and parks funding that you asked for via referendum.
The Milwaukee County of today is very different from the Milwaukee County of the recent past. Every day, we are working to make Milwaukee County great. The results delivered by the County Board in these first 100 days are a measurable testament to our leadership. I invite everyone to join us and be a part of this next, exciting chapter in the history of Milwaukee County government.
Marina Dimitrijevic is Chairwoman of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors.