Mayor's 2008 Budget Puts More Police on the Streets, Controls Taxes,Strengthens Worker Training and Economic Growth Initiatives
MILWAUKEE – Mayor Tom Barrett introduced his 2008 City of Milwaukee budget to the Common Council today, emphasizing increased investment in public safety and job creation while holding the line on property taxes.
"As stewards of the public's tax dollars, we have a tremendous obligation to expend the people's money wisely and responsibly," said Mayor Tom Barrett. "I am proud to present a budget that controls taxes, strengthens our commitment to public safety, invests more in our economic development and job creation efforts, builds healthier neighborhoods across Milwaukee, and continues to deliver City services effectively."
Barrett's budget demonstrates his commitment to fiscal responsibility and continues to hold the line on property taxes. The owner of a median valued property in the City will pay just $24 more in property taxes and fees for City services next year, an increase of only 1.7% -- well below the rate of inflation. Mayor Barrett's proposed tax rate is $8.01 per $1,000 of assessed value, compared to $9.73 when he took office four years ago.
Among the highlights and key priorities of Mayor Barrett's budget proposal:
More Police: With new hires and civilianization, puts 100 more Milwaukee Police Department officers on the streets over two years. 2008 sworn strength is estimated to be 2,009 officers, the highest funded sworn strength level since 1999.
MPS School Safety Partnership: Invests $1.1 million in a 50/50 cost-sharing split with MPS to put School Resources Officers in a total of 12 Milwaukee high schools, a ten school increase. At the two schools that currently participate in the Partnership there has been a substantial decrease in incidents and an improved learning environment as students and teachers feel more secure.
Neighborhood Security Initiative: Directs $1.8 million in new funding to continue the Neighborhood Safety Initiative in 2008. This strategy has been very successful in decreasing violent crime across the Milwaukee, and has helped create police-community partnerships. Nearly 50,000 business and citizen contacts have been developed.
Workforce Development: Continued progress of City of Milwaukee as lead agency for workforce development in the region. Features $200,000 to continue the Driver's License Restoration Initiative, removing a major roadblock to employment.
Youth Summer Jobs: Invests $300,000 to mobilize City government, the nonprofit community and the business sector to offer paid internships to Milwaukee high school students. Last year 1,250 young people participated, gaining valuable skills and contacts.
City Development: City use of Tax Incremental Financing has already created and or will create an estimated 3,317 jobs and a $357 million increase in Milwaukee's tax base, and Barrett's budget builds on this success. It authorizes $64.6 million in Tax Incremental Financing for projects such as Bronzeville, Tower, Midtown, and various Neighborhood initiatives such as Mitchell Street and others. Also includes $1.8 million for the development fund.
Healthy Neighborhood Initiative: Invests $100,000 in matching money to private foundation funding to improve neighborhood conditions outside of CDBG areas.
Community Improvements: $300,000 for improved recreation facilities such as tennis courts and tot-lots, and $200,000 for conversion of Hartung landfill into a neighborhood park.
Health Department: Maintains major health department programs and clinic hours, and increases immunizations (27,000 immunizations to 11,000 clients projected in 2008) and lead abatement (785 additional units in 2008).
Affordable Housing: $400,000 for Housing Trust Fund, to leverage $2.5 million in borrowing authority currently in place. Invests $75,000 to continue Milwaukee's collaboration with County government and the Continuum of Care Coalition to provide quality supportive housing options for citizens with special needs.
Green Milwaukee: $500,000 for energy challenge program to improve efficiency in energy usage in City government. $500,000 for sustainable boulevards and $1.1 million for tree planting.
Delivery of City Services
Infrastructure: $1 million increase for local streets; $560,000 increase for street lighting; $580,000 increase for major streets and bridges; $1.6 m. increase for Sewers; $619,500 increase for Water Mains. Rapidly accelerates repair and replacement cycle for local streets from 165 years to 65 years by 2013.
Port: $2.1 million to support Port operations and capital projects.
Solid Waste Services: Maintain garbage and recycling pickups at current levels, with no cuts. Expand pilot programs to improve recycling participation and tonnage. Expedited program to abate nuisance litter, especially food litter
Library System: In an effort to begin standardizing library hours, neighborhood libraries with morning hours will open at 10 rather than 10:30. This will increase hours on those days by 30 minutes – yielding an overall increase of 1%.
Barrett also warned that the ongoing budget impasse in Madison may harm many of Milwaukee's most important priorities, and called on State Legislative Leaders to immediately pass a responsible state budget that makes a real commitment to Shared Revenue.
"Our ability to expand the School Security Partnership, or hold the line on the property tax levy, hinges on whether or not the State Legislature meets its commitment to the Shared Revenue level approved by the bipartisan Joint Finance Committee," said Barrett. "It has been 11 years since Shared Revenue has increased for local communities, and the increase approved by the State Senate is long overdue."
Barrett noted that even though the State Legislature hasn't met its responsibility, the City of Milwaukee will certainly fulfill its obligations.
"The people of Milwaukee expect that their government will work to manage and control the tax burden. Our citizens demand that our City government will continue to work to find innovative and effective solutions to the challenges that face our City. And the people of Milwaukee expect that critical city services will be maintained and delivered efficiently," said Mayor Barrett. "These are all reasonable and appropriate expectations. I am proud to report that the budget I submit meets each of these priorities."
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