What Would Alderman Donovan Do?
The 2010 City of Milwaukee budget faces a series of hurdles. There is the $50 million pension fund contribution, brought on because of the stock market crash. There is also the $33 million decline in property tax levy due to declining home values. Shared revenues from the State of Wisconsin have been flat or declining for years now, and of course there is the steadily increasing cost of providing healthcare. Needless to say this budget isn’t going to be pretty.
Mayor Tom Barrett‘s proposed budget implements $35 million worth of cuts to continuing operations, which impacts just about every department, and includes a reduction in full time equivalents (FTE) of approximately 380 positions. The Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) would see a cut of $15 million from the budget and a corresponding reduction of 139 FTEs. The Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD) would see a reduction of $5 million from the budget and a corresponding reduction of 63 FTEs. Although these at first may seem as deep cuts to these two critical departments, but after these cuts the their budgets would still be $216 million and $100 million respectively. In addition to these cuts the budget proposal would include increases to the solid waste fee, snow and ice fee, water fees, and an increase to the property tax to cover this year’s shortfall.
- Completely cut the Public Works Infrastructure Services Department ($34 million), and close the City Attorney’s Office ($7 million). Conduct no infrastructure projects in Milwaukee, and having no legal staff?
- Chop the Public Works Operations Division ($70 million) to less than half of its size? Make the assumption that rarely will the city pick up the garbage, recycle, sweep the streets, or plow the roads?
- How about shutting down the Department of Neighborhood Services ($14 million), Milwaukee Public Libraries ($20 million), the Department of City Development ($4 million), and the Election Commission ($2 million). Let our neighborhoods continue to deteriorate, forget about building permits, proposed development projects, and well nobody votes anyhow.
See the problem? It’s not that other departments didn’t take cuts this year, just about all of them did, but the reality is that all areas had to be scaled back because of the economic downturn. Could planning for the largest economic collapse in decades have been factored into previous budgets, possibly, but right now I wonder, what would Alderman Donovan do?