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City leaders seek citizen input on ways to fill major budget gap

Paramedics and police officers are there to keep you safe, but South Milwaukee city leaders admit it's getting harder to pay for. By 2027, there is projected to be a gigantic shortfall in the paramedic budget. The city is trying to figure out what to do now.

"We've got a funding issue for paramedics right now. We are the second smallest, per capita, police department in the county, in the region, right now," said Mayor Erik Brooks.

With regard to the paramedics funding issue, there's projected to be a $4.1 million budget shortfall between 2018 and 2027. To pay for that, the city could outsource services or keep them here and cut another department's budget to pay for it. There is also a separate proposal to add two police officers which could come with a tax increase.

"We've got to solve for these issues as we continue to look for the long term other solutions, as well," Mayor Brooks added.

Earlier this month, the city broke tradition and put out a survey instead of having a public hearing. More than 1,000 have already been returned.

"I'm glad that the Mayor and the council decided to get the input of the city to decide what to do," said Red Arnold, a life long resident of South Milwaukee.

Arnold said he's not exactly keen on outsourcing paramedic service, fearing response times might be longer. He's also not sure the city needs extra police officers, but isn't necessarily against it.

"That is something that I feel would better addressed to see if you can cut somewhere in order to make that happen versus a raise in the taxes," Arnold said.

Completed surveys can be dropped off at South Milwaukee City Hall, 2424 15th Avenue, or they can be completed online.

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