Dave Reid

Common Council Retains Five Member Firefighter Crews

By - Nov 26th, 2008 09:41 am
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The most notably items on the agenda were the Common Council’s actions regarding Mayor Tom Barrett‘s vetoes, the action taken regarding the sick leave legislation, and the movement towards the possible privatization of the Milwaukee Water Works.  Alderman Michael Murphy took the opportunity to explain that in all likely-hood the Milwaukee will face a significant budget shortfall next year.  He pointed to the economic crisis, the state’s budget problems, and the expanding number of foreclosures in Milwaukee as the cause that will create this shortfall and will require more dramatic cuts.

Mayor Barrett’s budget had originally attempted to cut crews on all nine Milwaukee Fire Department ladder companies, but through committee action this had been reduced to only cutting crews on one ladder company.  Mayor Barrett had vetoed this amendment but the Common Council acted again by voting 13 to 1 to override this veto which retained five member crews on eight ladder companies.

The Common Council also sustained Mayor Barrett’s veto of Amendment 2B which called for an across the board 1% cut to operational budgets.  A substitute amendment was brought forward that proposed this same 1% operational cost cut but only to five city agencies.  Alderman Jim Bohl expressed that this once again showed that departmental budgets can be cut deeper than department heads admit because otherwise this compromise wouldn’t of been offered by the Mayor.  This substitute was approved by the Common Council.

A similar back and forth took place between Alderman Bohl and Alderman Murphy regarding the budget process and the compromises that are been made occurred during the discussion of a substitute for Amendment 40.  The substitute, another compromise made with the Mayor, would replace four battalion chiefs with three fire captain incident safety officers.  Alderman Murphy argued that “the budget process, is a give and take process,” indicating that it should be expected to see partial reductions made in response to larger reduction requests.  The substitute was approved by the Common Council.

The Common Council also denied MMAC’s challenge to 9 to 5’s sick leave legislation.  Despite the denial the quick action taken by the Common Council will actually allowed for the MMAC to move this challenge forward into the court system.

The other item of note was the approval to study the privatization of the Milwaukee Water Works which if it were to occur would help fund an endowment to pay for other city services.  Comptroller Wally Morics recently proposed this idea due to his belief that coming budgets will see significant shortfalls.  At a recent Steering & Rules Committee Meeting he referred to the proposal as our “last bullet,” indicating that he believed the city was out of options.  The Common Council made it clear they weren’t approving of privatizing just that this was something they had to investigate.  This item was approved by the Common Council.

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