Barrett proposes $1.7 billion Milwaukee budget

NOW: Barrett proposes $1.7 billion Milwaukee budget

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett proposed a $1.7 billion budget for the city next year.

City fees will not increase, but the average homeowner will see a $33 increase on their property tax bills.

Barrett said American Rescue Plan funds from Congress are key to stave off cuts to vital services, but he also warned this budget is the calm before the storm.

"We've put ARPA dollars into the police department, the fire department, the health department, the public works department," said Barrett.

He said that federal money will prevent more cuts to city services. Six million-dollars will pay for 195 new police officers, although the department's overall budget will be smaller than in 2021. Barrett blames that on dwindling money from the state.

"We're the ones who hire the police, so how can they say they support the police and not give us any money to hire police?" said Barrett.

He said the fire department will be fully funded and will support private ambulance companies struggling to operate.

"The fire department will subsidize the private providers and train emergency responders for the private companies in the coming year," said Barrett.

The other big change he proposed is to consolidate the 911 call taking between fire and police. Finance Committee Chair Alderman Michael Murphy agreed with the mayor's use of federal money.

"If the federal dollars were not being made available, we would be in a much different situation," said Murphy.

He said the council will review the mayor's proposals and make its own changes. But he said without state action on either a sales tax vote, or a funding formula reform, this may be one of the last budgets that doesn't cause the city significant pain.

"Without giving those options to the city of Milwaukee, we are left in a very difficult position financially going forward," said Murphy.

The council has about six weeks to work through the budget.

One must be adopted by Nov. 14.

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