Bill to create Milwaukee County Comptroller moves forward

    State Sen. Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee) applauded the Senate’s approval of a bill to create the office of a Milwaukee County Comptroller.
    The bill (SB 259) was approved Wednesday night on a bi-partisan 21-10 vote. The bill would create the Comptroller position, as a non-partisan, elected office to be first elected in April 2012.
    Taylor authored the bill with Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee), Rep. Dale Kooyenga
    (R-Brookfield), Rep. JoCasta Zamarrippa (D-Milwaukee) and Rep. Josh Zepnick (D-Milwaukee)
    “The Milwaukee County Comptroller will be a non-partisan fiscal watchdog for the county that is elected by the taxpayers,” Taylor commented on the Senate floor. “Independent from the county board and the county executive, this new comptroller will be charged with advising and providing recommendations to the board and executive on fiscal matters. This new office is a huge step to restoring trust in the county’s fiscal position and proposed legislation.”
    The comptroller’s office will combine functions housed in the executive branch of Milwaukee County and the County Audit Bureau in the County Board. In addition, some functions of the County Treasurer will merge and parallel in the office of the Comptroller. This new independent office would be elected for the first time on the April 2012 ballot. The Controller must be a Certified Public Account or have a higher degree in finance to be eligible for the office.
    “This new office is not a political one. It is an office designed for a finance professional to be elected to give solid advice and provide clear, accurate data on fiscal matters in the county without being beholden to the board or the executive. Milwaukee County will benefit from an independent voice for advice on financial matters.” Taylor said.
    The Assembly is expected to take the bill up today. Enactment of the law is necessary before Nov. 15 to place the new office on the April 2012 ballot.
    The Milwaukee County Board today approved a resolution authored by Board Chairman Lee Holloway to oppose the bill.
    “This bill, advanced by the Greater Milwaukee Committee, is ill advised, and I encourage the Assembly to vote it down,” Holloway said. “This bill would create another elected office, place another layer of bureaucracy in county government, and add costs during a down economy. The taxpayers of Milwaukee county have not asked for this additional burden.”
    The resolution opposing the State legislation was approved by a supermajority of the County Board this morning, including: Holloway, Eyon Biddle Sr., Gerry Broderick, Lynne De Bruin, Marina Dimitrijevic, Jason Haas, Nikiya Q. Harris, Willie Johnson Jr., Theodore Lipscomb Sr., Michael Mayo Sr., Peggy Romo West, Jim “Luigi” Schmitt, and John Weishan Jr.
    “This legislation is a violation of local control, an unfunded mandate, and goes against the broad consensus that has come together in support of truly independent non-political fiscal analysis,” Lipscomb said.
    “I am asking the Legislature to ignore agendas like this from special interest groups that do not represent the wishes of county residents,” Biddle said.  “In this case, the Greater Milwaukee Committee is a special interest group trying to undermine county government.  I hope that, in the future, the County Executive will work with the County Board, rather than against us, when considering items that alter the structure of county government.”
    – BizTimes Milwaukee

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