As with almost every other issue facing modern society, this, too, is a taxation issue. Just as diminishing taxation (of corporations and the wealthy) has led to increasing income inequality and crumbling infrastructure, declining funding has restrained park maintenance and upkeep.
The article talks of "limited staff...a dramatic drop since 2003 in the number of hours worked by seasonal staff at Boerner, declining from more than 26,000 hours in 2003 to 7,000 in 2014, according to the audit."
It's awfully tough to overcome losing almost 20,000 hours of work each year.
The county’s financial commitment to parks, recreation and culture was two-thirds of what it was in the 1970s, after adjusting for inflation. Spending for these functions peaked in 1975 at $77 million and reached a low point of $43 million 20 years later.
In current dollars, tax levy support for parks was $30.6 million in 2000, less than half the $65.8 million in 1975. The tax levy supported 47% of park spending in 2000, down from 78% in the 1980s. The difference was made up by other sources of revenue, including privatized park functions and increased user fees. This outside revenue nearly doubled between 1975 and 2000, to more than $16 million.As we can see from a study done by the Trust For Public Land, Milwaukee County Parks spending per resident is below the median ($73) of the 50 largest cities. Milwaukee spends $71 per resident. Detroit, the lowest, only spends $10. The highest, Washington D.C., spends $287 per resident.
The title of the article should have been Underfunding Tarnishes Milwaukee County Parks.