Abele has a 'Shadow System of Compensation' says Lawsuit filed by Board of Supervisors

Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors filed a lawsuit against Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

The lawsuit complaint says it is to clarify the scope of the Board’s and the County Executive’s statutory authority over matters related to the compensation of county employees.

“We are forced to respond to the Executive’s overreach and his creation of a shadow system of compensation to increase the pay of his political appointees, as well as his continued refusal to appear before the public in committee meetings as required by law,” said Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb, Sr.

The lawsuit claims Abele has taken actions to compensate certain Milwaukee County employees in a way that conflicts with Board policies.

The Board adopted in its 2014 budget an executive pay grade policy that Abele vetoed. The Board overrode the veto.  

On October 15, 2015, the Director of Human Resources submitted a report to the Committee on Finance, Personnel and Audit describing market based salary ranges. The report shows the under the direction of the County Executive and without obtaining the Board’s authorization and approval implement a new compensation model, according to the lawsuit.

“We file this action because our citizens respect the checks and balances in their government, and the County Executive is not above the law.  With today’s action, we ask the Courts to hold the County Executive accountable to the law,” said Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb, Sr.

Director of Health and Human Services Hector Colon was paid $177,625 when the assigned pay grade by the Board was for $122,422.20. The Director of Facilities Management was paid $121,800 his pay grade maximum salary was $119,302.86.

The Director of Retirement Plan Services Marian Ninneman was paid $103,530 her pay grade maximum salary was $92,542.34.

This difference comes to approximately $65,689. 

The lawsuit claims Abele has failed to attend Board meetings when his attendance has been deemed required by the Board. Abele did not attend a meeting on October 13, October 1 and October 21.

Melissa Baldauff from the Milwaukee County Executive's Office sent this statement:

The county executive is incredibly proud of the team whose great work allowed him to offer a budget that gives pay raises across the board, holds taxes flat for the fifth year in a row, and makes significant investments in economic development, transit, and mental health. County staff has spent hours answering the County Board’s questions about this budget. During that time surely the Board heard about programs that could benefit from the hundreds of thousands of dollars in public resources they are instead choosing to spend on a lawsuit that seeks to cut pay for County workers.

Supervisor Steve Taylor was a special live guest on the CBS 58 News at 4 p.m. to talk about the contentious relationship between the county executive and the board when it comes to the budget.

He's especially irked by the deal brokered by Abele for the new Bucks Arena and says supervisors were never consulted.

"I think it's something that's necessary," Taylor said of the lawsuit. "He's overstepped in his actions. He's ignored the county board. I mean there's no doubt we're the policy makers in Milwaukee County and he needs to follow policy. And he's not. And the county board has stepped up and a lawsuit has been filed."

We've attached his live interview to this story.

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