$3m Milwaukee Sewerage PR plan shelved after criticalreports

MILWAUKEE: The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District has dropped a $3 million PR plan that would have gathered community input for its long-range planning process.

MILWAUKEE: The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District has dropped a $3 million PR plan that would have gathered community input for its long-range planning process.

The district had recently awarded a PR contract to a group of independent practitioners that planned to hold hundreds of community meetings around the city and take other measures to get citizen input for what was dubbed the district's "2020 Stakeholder Involvement Program."

But after a critical story about the PR spending ran in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the district first cut the budget from $3 million to $2.5 million, and then pulled the plug altogether.

The initial Journal Sentinel story on April 10 said four district commissioners had questions about the PR contract. An editorial on April 15 said, "We have no problem with the idea - the district would be derelict if it didn't try to get greater input on projects. But $3 million, even spread over five years, is excessive at a time when government spending everywhere is facing intense scrutiny."

Bill Graffin, communications and environmental policy manager for the district, said it had contacted the paper about inaccuracies in its initial story. That story said the district already spends $5.6 million a year on PR. But Graffin said that budget includes a variety of other programs - such as hazardous waste collection and information technology - that come under the information and community education division.

The district has a six-person internal PR staff.

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