By County Executive Chris Abele, Special to OnMilwaukee   Published Aug 01, 2017 at 2:56 PM Photography: Bobby Tanzilo

As an elected official, it is important to me that I hear the voices of people who are impacted by the budget decisions we make. Our new initiative, Engage Milwaukee, encourages the public to engage in the budget process.

Engage Milwaukee consists of a new software program called Balancing Act. Through this software, the public is able to design and share their own budget for Milwaukee County. Since its launch on June 15, this tool has helped the public visualize and understand the difficult decisions policymakers have to make each fiscal year.

Community members, like Ald. Cavalier Johnson, believe that Balancing Act has challenged residents to balance a $40 million deficit that County leaders will also likely face in the upcoming budget, but also to engage in meaningful input.

Even though we face many significant challenges this fiscal year, I am pleased that the Engage Milwaukee initiative has encouraged open dialogue surrounding the upcoming budget. I continue to feel strongly that the community should be heard as we make important decisions about where and how to invest our resources into programs and services that empower more people.

It was a pleasure working alongside the experienced professionals at Balancing Act. Likewise, they said that Milwaukee County is a "top-notch, high performing government." This partnership continues to show that when public and private entities work together, great strides in change can be made. I look forward to continuing to partner with state and local elected officials, business leaders and community leaders to meet the needs of the Milwaukee community.

Visit to view and submit a budget for Milwaukee County. A Balancing Act for Milwaukee County will be open to receive submissions through the end of August. Budget submissions are anonymous and will be received by our budget office, which will compile all the feedback we receive over the summer and share with the community in the fall.