Municipal Spending Highest Since 2011
Rises by 1.8% for second straight year, but drops by 6.6% in Milwaukee.
Total operational spending in Wisconsin’s cities and villages with populations over 2,000 saw modest increases for a second straight year in 2014, rising 1.8% from $841 to $856 per resident, according to a new study.
MunicipalFacts16, an exclusive annual study released by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX), reviews spending in Wisconsin’s 245 most populous municipalities. WISTAX is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization devoted to public policy research and citizen education.
The operating figures represent key government services, such as general government operations; police; fire and ambulance services; and road maintenance, plus other programs such as health and human services, recreation, and public works.
WISTAX also examined these first four categories—”basic spending”—which rose 1% from $561 to $567 per resident. Police expenditures (40.3% of basic spending) accounted for the largest share of spending, followed by fire-ambulance services (24.7%) and street maintenance (20.4%).
Per capita expenditures for police were the only one of the four basic service areas where spending did not increase, remaining at $228. Fire-ambulance expenditures rose 0.8% to $140 per person. After a wide fluctuation in street maintenance in the two previous years (down 7.5% in 2012, then up 7.4% in 2013) , spending rose 0.5% in 2014, to $116. Per capita spending for general government administration rose 4.5%, to $83 per capita.
The 2014 figures, which became available this spring, mark the third full year since 2011 Act 10, which required most public employees to contribute to their retirement, eliminated benefits as a subject of collective bargaining, and limited bargained wage increases to inflation. Previous WISTAX studies showed that municipal spending declined in 2012, and then began inching up again in 2013. This year’s per capita operating expenditure figure is the highest since 2011.
Close to home, spending on municipal operations in Milwaukee was $1,217 per capita, a -6.6% change from 2013 vs. the 1.8% increase among the 245 municipalities studied by WISTAX. In 2014, average law enforcement spending was $228 per resident, while police spending in Milwaukeee was $460. Street maintenance spending totaled $149 per capita, compared to $116 elsewhere. While net fire and ambulance expenditures averaged $140 statewide, they averaged $199 per person in Milwaukee.