Milwaukee County was facing difficult times, along with most of the rest of the country. The county had lost 5% in assessed values, which eroded its tax revenue, and the state legislature had enacted a tax freeze that limited what the county could do to offset those losses. Unions had agreed to some concessions, so labor costs were steady, but other costs were rising, while the county's short-term investments were yielding less and other sources of revenue were also down.

But Treasurer Daniel Diliberti says difficult times can be good times to make improvements because people are more willing to concede that things have to change. Milwaukee County's Treasurer's Office implemented a number of changes in the way it did business, many of them involving online capabilities.

For example, it put in place the State Income Tax Refund Interception to collect delinquent property taxes. "That really helps us in our collections," Diliberti says. The county must first notify residents that it intends to place them in the program. "Ironically, when we send out the notices, we get more payments from people than from the tax intercept," he says. "They pay us so we don't touch their tax refunds."

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