The proposal comes during a time of rising homicide rates and other issues citywide
Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson made his first budget proposal as mayor Tuesday, September 20, 2022, morning.
It provides an inside look at how Johnson plans to tackle the issues facing Milwaukee.
It comes at a time of skyrocketing homicide rates, domestic violence upticks, reckless driving chaos and lingering impacts from the pandemic.
However, as outlined in his speech to the common council, one of those issues makes it hard to tackle the others – revenue constraints.
Mayor Johnson proposed a $1.7-billion budget to the council Tuesday, including several cuts amid what he called constrained, or hamstrung revenue.
Johnson said the property tax levy cannot be significantly raised, and Milwaukee cannot collect hotel, income or sales taxes for the budget. So to bring in additional revenue he proposed a 2 percent tax levy increase.
He said with that levy a typical homeowner will pay an additional 2.1 percent in property taxes and about 4 percent more in fees. Johnson also proposed a 2 percent pay raise for general city workers, and 3 percent if they’ve worked there for more than 5 years. “I value their work and we must treat them respectfully,” the Mayor said.
The Mayor’s proposal would reduce the number of sworn Milwaukee Police Department officers by 1 percent. He anticipates the city will receive a federal grant this year. However if that doesn’t happen, then officers will be reduced by 2 percent.
One percent fewer officers equates to 17 officers.
Mayor Johnson hopes this happens by attrition and retirements.
Johnson said he would add more officers if the city’s finances were better.
Although he plans to reduce the officers, he requested $20-million more for the police department for the 2023 budget compared to 2022.
The proposal requests $300,860,638 for the Milwaukee Police Department.
In 2022 former Mayor Tom Barrett allocated more than $280-million to the Milwaukee Police Department. That was a budget cut from the $295-million in 2021.
It also eliminates up to two fire engines by July 2023.
The proposal includes a $100-million payment to the pension system. It’s $30-million more than last year’s requirement.
Johnson said the pensions are largely driven by police officers and firefighters, and believes the city isn’t in position to ask them to trim the bill. Johnson said he’s speaking with state senate and assembly leaders about shared revenue and other options to help constraints.
When WISN 12 News asked how those discussions were going the Mayor said he’s hopeful to make-up some ground once they’re back in session for the 2023 year.
Some organizations believe the police department’s budget is too much.
The African American Roundtable group hosted a rally outside of City Hall following the proposal to discuss why they believe police funding should go toward community programs for public health and affordable, quality housing. The organization is also pushing for participatory budgeting to decide where money will go. The proposal will now go to the common council for changes, and eventually a vote.