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MPS Board approves $87M referendum ballot question

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A property tax increase to support Milwaukee schools will soon be in the hands of voters. School board members, on Thursday, agreed to add a referendum question to the April ballot.

"We want to make sure we balance the needs of the students and the taxpayers," board member-at-large Bob Peterson said.

And for board members this means placing a very important question for voters on the April ballot.

“We believe that our students should be valued at least as much as the more affluent suburbs," he added.

In an eight-to-one vote, the board chose to allow the district to exceed its current revenue limit by $87 million dollars, over a four-year period.

The referendum increase would begin at $57M for the 2020-2021 school year, then by an additional $20 million for the 2021-2022 school year. An additional $7 million would be added during the 2022-2023 school year, and it would end with an $3 million by the 2023-2024 school year.

“We are doing something here which is very significant," board member Luis Baez said during the meeting. "We’re asking people to raise, initially, their taxes. We need to make sure that we can answer all those questions.”

The Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association (MTEA) supported the voted as well.

“These are not extras, or luxuries. This is the definition of a well-rounded public education. It’s the education we would all want for our own children," MTEA President Amy Mizialko said.

For homeowners, the reoccurring financial option would mean an estimated, yearly tax impact of $160 for a home valued at $100,000.

“Overall, what we invest in children in this city should be as close to possible to what every community invests in their children," Milwaukee resident and homeowner Dennis Oulahan said.

“We will continue to advocate at the state level, and at the federal level for all of the funding that the students need," board member Megan O'Halloran said.

The board plans to hold meetings next month to decide how funds will be allocated, with a possible draft plan approval on January 30.

The election is on April 7.

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