The 2016 City Budget increases funding commitments to neighborhood revitalization, improved infrastructure, employment opportunities and public safety. These priorities are consistent with the community’s interest in a strong local economy and a safe city. Just as importantly, the 2016 Budget continues to manage the City’s finances and long-term obligations in a responsible manner.
- The adopted 2016 budget includes $6.5 million in capital funding for the Strong Neighborhoods Plan. These programs focus on reducing code violations, enabling essential home repairs, creating incentives for area redevelopment and affordable rental housing, and supporting investment in commercial properties. Two new programs with combined funding of $250,000 will encourage the purchase of City-owned properties, including vacant lots, to increase community resources and owner occupied homes in neighborhoods. These resources will help the City maintain its strong 2015 performance in the sale of City-owned improved properties and vacant lots, which totaled 527 and 250 respectively.
- The City Budget includes $450,000 for the Housing Infrastructure Preservation Fund to improve historically-valuable housing the City obtains through foreclosure so these can be resold, $250,000 for incentives to renovate and sell foreclosed commercial properties, $2.2 million for demolition of blighting properties and $500,000 for Code Compliance Loans to help property owners make necessary repairs and avoid foreclosure.
- Core infrastructure programs including streets, bridges, street lighting and sewers total $79 million in the 2016 City Budget. Since 2004 City funding for core infrastructure has increased by $36 million, approximately 83%.
- The 2016 City Budget continues the increased water main replacement program. The goal is to replace 101 miles of mains through 2020. The 2016 City Budget funds replacement of 15 miles of water main at an estimated cost of $19.5 million. Increased main replacement reduces the risk of main breaks throughout Milwaukee neighborhoods.
- During 2016, the City will improve the condition and extend the useful life of 36 miles of local and major commercial and high traffic count street segments in our neighborhoods at an estimated cost of $17.7 million. This investment will improve ride quality and support existing and new neighborhood development.
- The 2016 City Budget includes $2.3 million for the Neighborhood Street Lighting program and will replace outdated series circuitry-based street lights with multiple circuitry, using $1 million of funding in order to reduce electrical outages in areas with the most frequent problems.
- The 2016 City Budget includes $37.2 million to relay or reline 33 miles of local sewers throughout the city, targeting sewer sheds with the greatest risk of sewer backups.
- Library facilities and programs provide another important component of neighborhood vitality. The 2016 capital budget includes $4.8 million for several branch library improvements, including $3.7 million for two mixed-use library projects that will replace the current Forest Home and Mill Road facilities and $1 million to begin funding renovations of the Capitol and Martin Luther King libraries. Branch libraries anchor neighborhoods and with the City’s investment will improve the economic conditions of the surrounding housing and business districts. The 2016 City Budget also increases library hours by 7%, which enables all neighborhood libraries to offer service six days a week.
The 2016 City Budget enables a multifaceted approach to the challenge of public safety. Some of the key funding items include:
- Improved capacity for proactive deployment by increasing sworn strength by 8 FTE and adding seven Community Service Officers.
- $730,000 to phase in the deployment of body cameras in the Milwaukee Police Department. A total of 1,200 cameras will be deployed by the end of 2016. The goal is to reduce use of force incidents, reduce citizen complaints and improve the relationship between the community and the Police Department.
- $460,000 to maintain the expanded Shotspotter program, which will help enable a more focused and timely response to shooting incidents.
- Improved police deployment and data analysis via $6.2 million of capital budget investments in communication and dispatch system upgrades, mobile data computers and the new Records Management System.
- $150,000 to work with community partners to develop a comprehensive, community informed, youth development and violence prevention plan. The goal is to increase local capacity and develop new approaches to reducing youth violence. The Health Department will be the lead agency for this initiative.
Milwaukee’s economy has been rebounding from the effects of the Global Financial Crisis, which have generated increased unemployment as well as significant challenges to the local housing market. The City is taking aggressive action to generate redevelopment and tax base growth by collaborating with private sector partners on projects such as the Menomonee Valley Business Park, the Brewery, Reed Street Yards, the Milwaukee Bucks Arena and Ancillary Development project, and the expansion of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance headquarters.
- The 2016 City Budget also includes targeted efforts to improve employment of city residents. Compete Milwaukee will build on efforts that the City initiated during 2014 to place persons facing significant barriers to employment in transitional jobs. The program includes transitional job placements, a summer jobs for adults initiative to employ adults who live outside of the transitional jobs area and a new school youth program to provide “at risk” youth with the training and skills to be successful in school and successfully transition from school to work. The City expects to make 115 transitional job placements available in 2016.
- The Mayor’s Earn & Learn program will continue to provide summer jobs for Milwaukee teens, helping these youth to develop beneficial work habits and confidence by providing critical employment experience.
- The Mayor’s Manufacturing Partnership will continue to work with local companies to address the skills gap between unemployed City residents and available manufacturing positions.
- The City’s Resident Preference Program (RPP) helps build a stronger workforce while providing skilled employment and training opportunities to city residents. In 2016, the City will strengthen RPP policies, procedures and practices and enhance the ability to track and report on workforce data. It is estimated that in 2016, RPP will result in almost $4.5 million of wages for target area residents and the equivalent of approximately 90 full time positions.
The 2016 City Budget continues to improve the City’s structural budget balance while managing the impacts on taxpayers. The restructuring of health care benefits and pension finance has generated a stabilizing influence on the annual budget. The City’s stable employer pension contribution policy and prepayment strategy began in 2013 and is expected to save approximately $20 million through 2018. General obligation debt per capita has declined 15.5% since 2011.
The City’s property tax levy of $256.77 million remains frozen. This enables City departments to continue mission critical services and implement new initiatives with an increased cost of $4.50 to the typical residential property owner.