Milwaukee County supervisors on Thursday agreed to increase funding for the War Memorial and Milwaukee Art Museum.
The two have long shared space along Milwaukee’s lakefront, but they’ve been unable to reach a funding agreement for nearly two years.
Applause rang out in the board room after supervisors unanimously okayed a deal to support the war memorial and art museum. Chair Marina Dimitrijevic said the board made a statement.
“We are sending an 18 to zero message to the county executive and I have one request. Sign it as soon as possible, we’re speaking with a united voice,” Dimitrijevic says.
Under the plan, the county will pay $1.6 million a year for ten years, to help run both the memorial and museum. Most of the money will go to the museum.
Sup. Gerry Broderick says each needs an infusion of cash because for too long, the county has failed to maintain their facilities.
“Much of this deferred maintenance has been the product of executives who want to appear to be fiscally prudent to the point of not caring for the very resources that we own and operate in the name of lowering taxes,” Broderick says.
While Broderick and Dimitrijevic wholeheartedly supported the agreement, a few board members voted yes reluctantly. Sup. Anthony Staskunas worries about the board acting on a single budget item - and not, during the budget season.
“We’re locking ourselves in now for 10 years at a 25 percent increase for this particular line item on our budget. And I think that’s the danger of coming up with one item at a time, which is that each item when it stands by itself looks really excellent, really overwhelmingly good and that we should all vote for it,” Staskunas says.
Staskunas suggested the board provide less money for the memorial and museum and slice the timeframe, but supervisors shot down his recommendation. Joining him in expressing concern was Sup. Deanna Alexander. She says the vote put her between a rock and a hard place.
“Between fiscal conservatism and aiding veterans, they were two causes that I knew I had constituents that supported both. I reached out to some of them and they advised me and asked that I would air on the side of aiding veterans,” Alexander says.
Alexander says if she had more time, she would have offered amendments.
County Executive Abele has threatened to veto the measure because of the cost. However, it appears the board has enough votes to override a veto.