Residents express frustrations over Mayor's plan to cut police and firefighter positions out of budget

NOW: Residents express frustrations over Mayor’s plan to cut police and firefighter positions out of budget

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Mayor Tom Barrett's proposed budget has big cuts to police and firefighters.

Residents say there must be another way than messing with public safety but city leaders say their hands are tied.

"The crime on this city, north, south, east, west is getting out of control," said Jimmy Holte.

"I feel less safe in my neighborhood," said Alison Gima.

"It's ridiculous to sit and think that response times are going to be okay," said Donna Olsen.

Mayor Tom Barrett says cuts to police and fire are a last resort. "We've got several very strong forces that made this a very difficult budget."

Barrett says Milwaukee is losing tax money to the state and struggling with a 22 million dollar increase in pension payments made mostly to police and firefighters.

"The amount of money we get from the state is obviously dictated by state law. The way we interact with the Police Union and the Fire Union is also dictated by State Law."

The mayor says he wants the state to let Milwaukee offer a half-cent sales tax increase for public safety. 

Council members say they hope they can find other ways to avoid some of the cuts.

"There are some shortcomings here that I think we can come together as a city and try to fix. There has to be a priority that we're putting on public safety. I think the majority of council members are trying to find ways to make sure our communities are stable," said Ald. Ashanti Hamilton, Milwaukee Council President. 

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