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City budget compromise adds more police officers, money to health department

NOW: City budget compromise adds more police officers, money to health department

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee Common Council is opposing Mayor Tom Barrett's proposal to add ten new police officers to the force. 

Some aldermen wanted the money to go somewhere else. 

Mayor Barrett wanted to add ten new officers in the city's $1.5 billion budget but on Tuesday, a majority of aldermen said that money is better spent on the health department. 

Some aldermen sided with Mayor Barrett's call for the extra officers. Alderman Bob Donovan says it would reverse a troubling trend. 

"Our numbers have declined over the last eight to ten years significantly. We've lost hundreds of positions. So certainly I felt it important that we begin to turn that around," Ald. Bob Donovan - 8th District said. 

Others argue police already make up nearly half the city's budget, by far the largest component. Alderwoman Chantia Lewis says she thought the health department should get more than 2%. 

"At least try to balance the scale. And if you look at the amount that the budgets are set for both, we are nowhere near balancing the scales," Ald. Chantia Lewis - 9th District said. 

The Council voted 9-6 on a compromise, adding three police officers but diverting the rest of that money to health department positions, violence prevention, and lead poisoning treatment. 

"The public health crises that we see that contribute to the crime factor, we need to be a little more top heavy."

Council President Ashanti Hamilton says some of the money for the health department will go towards violence prevention programs to avoid the need for police in the first place. 

"The position that the council has been pushing, with highlighting and making a greater priority of prevention in neighborhoods," said Common Council President Ald. Ashanti Hamilton. 

Aldermen say they want to leave how the money will be spent up to new health department director Jeannette Kowalik since she wasn't in office when the initial budget was being made. 

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