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Milwaukee County Board votes down wheel tax

The Milwaukee County Board passed the budget on a 15-3 vote Monday.

Board supervisors voted 16-2 against County Executive Chris Abele's plan to increase the wheel tax from $30 to $60.

Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb says the board voted down the tax because Milwaukee County residents don't want it.

"Voters had rejected that by a margin of 72 percent. And the board was responsive to that. Our constituents won't want that."

But that means cuts to services to make up about a $14 million difference, and about $1.3 million more because the board voted to increase property taxes by less than Abele. The board instead opted for Lipscomb's plan, which calls for a three-quarters of a percent reduction across the board.

"Essentially to tighten their belts," Lipscomb said. "To do the same thing that the exec was asking homeowners to do. He was asking them to find something in their own budget that they shouldn't buy and give us 30 dollars. Instead, were asking departments to decide, what do they not need to buy."

Abele and some board members disagreed with the plan, saying cutting things like bus routes, senior services - and public safety is a problem.

"That's what happens when you assign a percentage and assign it to every department, and just take a little bit from everybody, without putting a priority list together about what absolutely just shouldn't be cut," Board Supervisor Deanna Alexander said.

Lipscomb says he didn't want to play favorites with departments.

"The fairest way to do it was to share the pain across the board."

Abele has a week if he wants to make vetoes. He released a statement saying he doesn't plan on making any, but he doesn't plan on signing the budget either.

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