Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele says he wants to cancel a new “pay to park” proposal and fill the resulting budget shortfall by drawing on the county’s rainy day fund.
The original proposal had called for installing parking meters at lakefront county parks, which officials estimated would generate $1.6 million to help balance the county’s Parks Department budget.
Elected officials had added the new parking policy to the county’s 2018 budget, but the idea quickly fell out of favor with residents. The County Board of Supervisors responded by proposing to put the new parking fees on hold.
In saying he no longer wants to pursue new parking fees, Abele said his budget team explored three alternatives: Increasing the county’s wheel tax, a local vehicle-registration fee, by about $5 per year; cutting $1.6 million in expenses elsewhere in the Parks Department budget, which would have meant closing parks such as the Mitchell Park Domes and Boerner Botanical Gardens; or dipping into the county’s contingency fund, which is meant only for emergency purposes.
“Given the outpouring of feedback we’ve received, I am pleased that we will be able to avoid charging visitors from paying to park their vehicles this year,” he said. “But we should be very clear that this is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.”