Jon Anne Willow
Public Policy Forum

Milwaukee Finances “On the Precipice”

By - Sep 1st, 2009 07:45 pm
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Public Policy ForumThe Public Policy Forum released a report Tuesday on the City of Milwaukee’s financial health, and the prognosis isn’t good. According to the report’s findings, the city could soon find itself in a position where only critical services like fire and police protection are provided.

Sound alarmist? Rob Henken, the Forum’s President, doesn’t think so. In a Tuesday post on Milwaukee Talkie, the Forum’s blog, he states “… the city’s revenue streams have exhausted their capacity to support its expenditure needs. We also find that this reality is not solely the consequence of economic recession, but one that has been building for more than a decade despite the efforts of city leaders to manage it.”

Conclusion? According to Henken, “Whatever actions are decided upon must involve both city and state officials and must be of the size and scope needed to truly address the city’s fiscal challenges. Otherwise, as we argue in the report, the city will be unable to avoid several successive years of deciding between police or potholes.”

The findings were derived through the use of a professional financial evaluation system of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), which was employed by the City itself in the 1990s, but not in this decade.

Full blog post on Milwaukee Talkie here.

Full report (PDF download) here.

WISN-12 news video here.

Categories: News, Urban Ideas

0 thoughts on “Public Policy Forum: Milwaukee Finances “On the Precipice””

  1. Anonymous says:

    This has been coming for a long time.

    For one thing, the City of Milwaukee is unable to capture additional property tax base through annexation because it has been forbidden from annexation since the legislature approved a punitive, anti-growth statute in 1955 that applied only to Milwaukee statewide.

    Secondly, the legislature has refused to grant the city any additional taxing authority. That trend continues, as Gov. Doyle just vetoed a Milwaukee County sales tax addition that voters approved by referendum, and some of those financial benefits would have accrued to the city and its residents/property taxpayers.

    Lastly, the state has been cutting shared revenue to the city for years, putting more pressure on the property tax levy.

    Without some basic changes, the city is going to remain under stress.

    Will anyone at the Capitol even care?

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