Milwaukee County supervisors this week restored at least some funding to the North Shore Fire Department in the 2012 budget.
But it’s a hollow victory, according to NSFD Chief Robert Whitaker.
The NSFD was originally facing a $362,000 cut to its paramedics budget after County Executive Chris Abele proposed entirely eliminating emergency medical services subsidiary for municipal departments. Supervisors restored a total of $1.5 million across the county, with $150,000 slated for the NSFD.
Though this particular amendment passed by a 15-4 margin, enough to override the veto Abele has threatened, Whitaker said he is unhappy that the partial restoration comes with the requirement to explore more consolidation and other conditions.
"I whispered to the person next to us, 'Then how come we’re not getting more when we’re doing what they want?' " he said.
Whitaker also is rankled by the board’s early termination of the EMS agreement between the county and its municipalities. The Intergovernmental Cooperation Council of Milwaukee, comprised of officials from those municipalities, crafted the three-year agreement that was to run through 2012.
"The language that’s really concerning to me is the termination," Whitaker said. "They’re terminating the contract early. We have a contract that goes through the end of 2012."
Both County Supervisor Joe Rice — who voted in favor of the amendment — and Whitaker agree that the ICC should determine how and where the funds are applied, not the County Board.
But supervisors supporting the amendment since the county was providing he money, it should decide how the funds will be allocated.
Under the new distribution plan, the EMS subsidy would be allocated as follows:
- City of Milwaukee: $725,000
- North Shore Fire Department: $150,000
- South Milwaukee: $125,000
- Oak Creek: $100,000
- Franklin: $100,000
- Greenfield: $100,000
- West Allis: $100,000
- Wauwatosa: $100,000
Abele has until 5 p.m. Monday to veto the measure. If he does, Whitaker said, the NSFD has a contingency plan in place for providing paramedic services.