M.O.R.E. Ordinance Approved by F&P Committee
The controversial M.O.R.E ordinance which had been sent to committee at the previous Common Council meeting was further debated at this Finance & Personnel Committee meeting. After further research by the Department of Administration they updated the fiscal note to include one full time position to manage the legislation. Alderman Michael Murphy referenced his efforts at the Common Council meeting to move this ordinance to committee was quick to point out that “I think I was right because there are more changes being made.”
Again a long list of developers and representatives of the business community spoke out against the ordinance, and although the list of speakers in support was less than at the previous meeting it’s likely they recognized a large turnout wasn’t needed as the ordinance had broad committee support.
Mike Fardy, Chief Operating Officer of Inland Companies, argued against the prevailing wage requirements stating that the additional cost could make buildings harder to rent because it comes down to “what can the end user afford to pay for rent.” He also stated that “it’s very competitive out there” and that this could make it harder to recruit to the City of Milwaukee.
Barry Mandel, President of Mandel Group, argued that “it will materially decrease the number of development projects in the City of Milwaukee.” He pointed to Mandel Group’s most recent project, the Corcoran Lofts, and explained that one line item change to prevailing wages would add $290,000. The point wasn’t that this project would be impacted, but to show what a change would do to the cost of a project.
Carla Cross, President of Cross Development Group, suggested that the new Residents Preferences Program (“RPP”) level would be difficult to meet saying “to raise it up to 40% will be a challenge.” Despite being a cosponsor Alderman Bob Bauman questioned the RPP levels saying “to go from 25 to 40 overnight, I’m not sure is doable.” Alderman Murphy added in reference to the RPP requirement that “I wasn’t going to support this legislation if it was the CBDG [Community Block Development Grant] boundaries.” The RPP requirements although higher than in the past now includes all unemployed or underemployed citizens of the City of Milwaukee which is significantly larger pool to draw from than the former smaller CBDG boundaries allowed.
Speaking in support of the proposed ordinance Ken Wheeler, Pastor of Cross Lutheran Church, emphatically stated that “the reality is that if we do not invest in our citizens we will invest in them on the downside.”
Alderman Bauman wrapped up his statements saying “there have been provisions in this legislation that have been removed,” and that “these so called mandates are in my view what essentially created the country that we have today.” This file was approved and will now go before the full Common Council.