- Few specific numbers have been shared at this point,
but Waukesha County officials are kicking off the 2015
budget-building season with a series of public meetings
to discuss determining how programs will be funded.
County Executive Dan Vrakas held one such town
hall-style meeting Monday at the County Courthouse,
which more than a dozen residents attended.
Despite ongoing challenges - including a sharp decline
in several income sources and new state mandates -
Vrakas and other county leaders sounded an upbeat tone
as next year’s budget is assembled.
county faces a $5.2 million shortfall next year for
several reasons, including the cessation of grant
funding for several programs. Also, interest income - a
once-mighty source of income -continues to decline, even
as the economy rebounds.
to the mix is the rise of unfunded state mandates,
primarily for criminal justice programs and various
court functions. Nearly 46 percent of the county’s 2015
budget is expected to fall into the unfunded mandate
amid the ongoing changes and new regulations, county
officials say new, creative methods are being adopted so
the county is complying with state laws, remaining
fiscally conservative and maintaining existing programs.
the county’s greatest tools, Vrakas said, is sharing
services with neighboring agencies. The words
“cooperation,” “collaboration” and “consultation” were
mentioned frequently during the nearly hour-long
described several shared service arrangements that he
said have saved the county money. One is a pooled effort
between the Waukesha School District and the city of
Describing the arrangement as an “unprecedented step” in
governance, Vrakas said the three agencies have worked
in tandem with health insurance policy coverage. By
Vrakas’ estimation, the county, city and school district
together stand to save $7 million in the next three
county also has worked with the city of Milwaukee to
lower costs on a new recycling facility as the more
advanced single-stream method of collecting refuse grows
in popularity. Milwaukee and Waukesha County each will
hold its own contract, but are working in tandem as a
new facility is constructed.
goes a long way,” Vrakas said. “When it comes to the
city of Milwaukee, Mayor (Tom) Barrett and I have been
wanting to work together on a joint project for a long
time. We worked together in the Legislature.”
most of the county’s functions remain in-house, Vrakas
said allocating some jobs to the private sector is an
issue that continues to be under review.
not afraid to ask, ‘Can we outsource that?’” Vrakas
fielded comments from a few people in the audience.
These included County Supervisor Duane Paulson, who
lauded some of the efforts in recent years to ensure the
county remains fiscally strong.
been (on the County Board) for 16 years, and I have
pride in being in one of the best run counties in the
state,” Paulson said. “The best thing a politician can
do is hire great people and get out of the way.”