Let's save our parks by demanding a stable, secure and sustainable funding source!

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As a resident of Milwaukee County, I demand that our elected leaders establish stable, secure and sustainable funding dedicated for support of public parks. Furthermore, I oppose parking meters in our public parks and any privatization efforts that lead to loss of public access and enjoyment of public parks by all citizens. (Only Milwaukee County residents should sign)

To date, the State has found a way to build a new Brewers Stadium and a new Arena for the Bucks, but our Parks suffer because their funding has stagnated for the last thirty-five years. Through our taxes we have assured the financial future of privately owned athletic franchises but not our own emerald necklace!  Any meaningful solution for properly funding our parks has to be endorsed by the State Legislature.

Here are some simple facts about Park funding:

  • Thirty five years ago, 1983, the Parks Dept. budget was approximately 42 million dollars.  The current year budget, 2018, is just under 35 million.   When factored for inflation (a multiplier of 2.5) the reduction is staggering.  If the Parks budget had stayed even with inflation it would be approximately 105 million dollars today.
  • In 1983 there were 765 full time employees working in the Parks. Today there are about 200.
  • The property tax levy support for Parks reached a high point in 1986 of nearly 29 percent of the total County budget. Today it is less than 5 percent (4.7%).
  • The Park System spending authority, its budget, is made up of property tax support and internally derived revenue through fees and charges. In 1986 the property tax for parks was over 31 million dollars. During the current year it is only 12.5 million dollars.
  • Since 2016 the property tax support for Parks has dropped over 12 million dollars, a severe trend that is expected to continue.
  • The 2018 property tax levy support for Milwaukee County Parks on a home in Milwaukee County assessed at $150,000 averages approximately $33. That’s about $11 per $50,000 of assessed value. A home valued at $250,000 would pay only $55. Park Funding has not contributed to higher taxes over the years!
  • While the Parks budget has declined, the County budget as a whole has doubled from 575 million dollars to 1.15 billion dollars.
  • Deferred maintenance in our parks has been estimated at somewhere between 200 and 300 million dollars.  Over the last two years the capital (bonded) dollars that would be used for addressing the deferred maintenance has dropped significantly. The current year capital budget allocated for Park improvements is only about 2.7 million dollars.  At the current rate it would take nearly 100 years to catch up with $250,000,000 in deferred maintenance. 

In essence, our parks are at a critical point; one that threatens the core concept that urban parks be supported by local taxes, that the "common good" and health of our community be reflected in a well cared for and valued park system.  In coming years we will see more direct advertising in our parks, naming rights will be sold for major park facilities, more leasing of parkland to private entities, and the sale of parkland that is not locally zoned "park".

We need to do better. Please sign this petition



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