By Autumn Misko, Resource Specialist
The Milwaukee County Executive has released the 2014 Recommended Operating Budget. Transit is looking great this year with a fare decrease for Transit Plus users and increased bus hours and miles. This is astonishing considering how transit has typically had difficulty being maintained and has usually faced service decreases and fare increases.
So, where is the money coming from? Well, it appears lower Transit Plus ridership accounts for a great deal. Operating costs decrease for the fixed route bus due to reduced costs for fuel, employee fringe benefits, utilities and professional services. Additionally, the new electronic fare system will better regulate fare collection through smart cards.
One concern from advocates is that the projected decease in Transit Plus ridership is overzealous. Agencies that cover transportation costs for some users, such as those enrolled in Family Care, have been utilizing lower cost providers. Advocates believe that many who have planned on switching have done so already. There is also concern over how these other transportation providers are regulated.
As for the rest of the recommended budget, advocates are enthusiastic. Transit Plus fares decreasing by a whole dollar, making the fare $3.00 instead of $4.00, will help many people with disabilities who rely on low fixed incomes. The recommended budget includes an increase in bus miles and hours. Miles increase by 20,356 which is a 0.1% increase and hours increase by 14,981 hours which is a 1.1% increase. For detailed budget information go to: http://county.milwaukee.gov/MilwaukeeCountyBudget
Now is the time for residents to voice any opinions they have about the items detailed above to members of the Finance Committee and their County Supervisors. Legislators need to hear from the public as soon as possible as they decide whether these items will be part of the 2014 Milwaukee County Budget. If you would like to voice an opinion on whether these items should be part of the budget, you can contact the Finance Committee by going to http://county.milwaukee.gov/FPA. County Supervisors will be looking for the opinions of their constituents on this matter as well. Go to http://county.milwaukee.gov/FindSupervisor to find your Supervisor if you would like to contact him or her.
On November 4th, the Milwaukee County Board will hold the Public Hearing on the County Executive’s 2014 Recommended Budget. The hearing will be at the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center: Memorial Hall, 3rd Floor at 750 North Lincoln Memorial Drive. This is an opportunity to provide testimony. For further information on hearings go to http://county.milwaukee.gov/CountyBudgetHearings.
If you have questions, contact Autumn Misko at firstname.lastname@example.org.