Momentum builds for part-time county board

Aside from proposed changes to the state’s mining laws, perhaps no other issue has Madison more abuzz today than a proposed change to state law to allow voters to decide in a binding referendum if Milwaukee County’s Board of Supervisors should be paid for part-time.

Smart Government Inc., a political nonprofit group formed by prominent members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, recently held a high-profile fundraiser to build support for a referendum to change the Milwaukee County Board to part-time and cut the pay and benefits of the supervisors.

The group is advocating for legislation that would let voters decide in April whether to cut the annual pay for the county’s 18 supervisors from $50,679 to $15,000. The measure calls for cutting the County Board budget to about $1.1 million, down from this year’s $6.5 million. The board has 38 employees, including researchers, committee clerks and others.

Smart Government Inc. is led by group of Milwaukee’s power couples, including Fiduciary Management CEO Ted and Mary Kellner, private investor Sheldon and Marianne Lubar, Badger Meter Inc. CEO Rich and Maribeth Meeusen, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud and Sue Selig, and retired Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. Inc. CEO Ed and Diane Zore.

Newly elected Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-West Allis), a former Milwaukee County Board member, and Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) are co-sponsors of the bill, which also is receiving the support of Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and the Greater Milwaukee Committee.

In response, Rep. Leon Young (D-Milwaukee) turned the tables on the supporters of the bill by announcing his intention to introduce a resolution to amend the State Constitution to convert the Wisconsin State Legislature from a full-time to part-time legislative body.

“I am suggesting that the Wisconsin State Legislature meet for only the first three months of each year, which is very similar to what the tentative schedule for the 2013-2014 session already suggests; and salaries be reduced to about $12,000 per year,” Young said.

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