• Mayor Barrett submits austere and resourceful 2017 proposed budget to Milwaukee Common Council

    September 30, 2016


    Despite “the triple whammy
    of increased pension obligations,
    rising health care
    costs and cuts in state aid”
    Mayor Tom Barrett submitted
    to the Milwaukee Common
    Council a proposed
    2017-18 budget of $1.53
    billion which includes just a
    2.7 percent increase in taxes.
    According to Mayor Barrett,
    the average homeowner will
    experience an annual property
    tax increase of $26.40 and
    a municipal fee increase of
    $10.86. The additional funds
    will address some longstanding
    infrastructure, public
    health and safety needs.
    Those needs include replacement
    of lead used in
    pipes which supply drinking
    water to about half of all
    Milwaukee residences and
    businesses. In addition there
    are a number of houses
    which contain lead paint. Elevated
    lead levels below the
    fatal threshold in the human
    body can cause learning and
    behavioral disabilities, especially
    in children. The proposed
    2017 budget allocates
    $11 million over two years
    and prioritizes replacement
    of pipes at 385 state licensed
    day-care centers. The budget
    also includes $4.3 million
    in funding to increase the
    17,000 houses which have
    already been made lead paint
    safe. The cost to replace all
    70,000 houses estimated to
    contain lead pipe will cost
    $770 million.
    The budget presentation
    also included the news that
    two major employers have
    committed to opening major
    manufacturing operations
    at the Century City
    Industrial Complex, located
    at the old A.O. Smith Automotive
    manufacturing center.
    During Governor Scott
    Walker’s first year in office,
    he terminated a multi-million
    dollar contract to build two
    new train sets for the Chicago-
    Milwaukee Amtrak corridor
    to be built by Spanish
    railroad manufacturer, Talgo.
    The decision cost Wisconsin
    taxpayers at least $40 million
    for the unused trains the title
    to which a court awarded
    to Talgo, meaning the state
    received virtually nothing
    for its investment. Recently
    Talgo won a contract to refurbish
    commuter rail cars
    for the City of Los Angeles
    and announced it would use
    its former Milwaukee manufacturing
    facility to refurbish
    the trains.
    Century City will also have
    another major new manufacturer
    after the Rev Group announced
    it will be assembling
    prototypes as it competes for
    a U.S. Postal Service contract
    to build the next generation
    of delivery vehicles. The
    proposed budget includes a
    60 percent increase in funding
    a variety of programs to
    help homeowners struggling
    to avoid foreclosure. Milwaukee
    has also benefited from
    the sale of 369 renovated
    tax-foreclosed homes.
    Law enforcement agencies
    will receive a $127 million
    budget increase that is nearly
    double the amount it received
    in 2004; the first year
    that Mayor Barrett assumed
    office. Putting the $302 million
    law enforcement budget
    in perspective, Mayor
    Barrett said the amount was
    more than the entire $267
    million Milwaukee property
    tax assessment. The increase
    calls for 165 new police officers,
    almost all of whom
    will replace officers who are
    expected to retire. Calling
    the recent surge of violence
    unacceptable, Mayor Barrett
    said that “courts and cops
    are not the only answer.”
    Healthy neighborhoods,
    youth development and violence
    prevention are proven
    crime reduction strategies
    that are less confrontational
    and potentially less discriminatory.