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Milwaukee common council to consider $20 million for lead removal

NOW: Milwaukee common council to consider $20 million for lead removal

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Mayor's Office is ready to make what they're calling a “historic investment” towards tackling the lead problem in Milwaukee. Mayor Tom Barrett wants to replace about 1,000 lead pipes, and service lines, also provide water filters for residents in older homes.

"We recognize that this is an issue, and so we're gonna be devoting millions of dollars to removing lead, from homes that have paint, primarily older homes. We also know there's problems with some service lines as well," Barrett said.

On Tuesday, Mayor Barrett will address the Common Council to present the 2019 budget. A significant amount, $20 million is being proposed for lead removal.

A portion will go towards the replacement of bad pipes.

"We'll have a little bit over $12 million that will go through the water department to help us remove lead from lead service line," Barrett said.

The rest will be for the health department.

"Lead in paints is a serious issue, as well...so they'll be $7 million, a little more than that actually, that's gonna go towards that issue, as well."

An internal report by the Milwaukee Health Department found the Childhood Lead Poisoning Program is deficient. Thousands of children who tested positive for lead, did not receive the proper follow-up.

The former health commissioner, Bevan Baker, resigned over the scandal. He was scheduled to appear before the Common Council for a special meeting, but it was cancelled.

"Again, we had some internal problems in the health department, and we are addressing those problems now. I was not happy with the problems, but we told the public when we had problems, and we are addressing them with our new health commissioner," Mayor Barrett added.

The budget also calls for more staffing at the police department -- about 10 more police officers on the force.

Under the budget plan, there would be a slight tax increase of about $50 dollars for the average homeowner, according to Barrett.

CBS 58 reached out to multiple council members for comment, but they were not available.

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