Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Barrett Issues Three Budget Vetoes

Will council override Barrett? They'll have to decide next Tuesday.

By - Nov 21st, 2017 07:19 pm
Mayor Tom Barrett. Photo by Jack Fennimore.

Mayor Tom Barrett. Photo by Jack Fennimore.

Mayor Tom Barrett has issued three budget vetoes, on the last day he was eligible to do so.

The council passed a $1.53 billion budget on November 10th, largely in line with Barrett’s proposed executive budget, but the mayor found three areas in the budget he opposes.

One was pretty obvious, a 50 percent salary reduction to the chair of the Board of Zoning Appeals that was introduced on the council floor. The mayor vetoed the measure and proposes to study the compensation in 2018. The second was also ripe for a potential veto: the council passed a series of amendments that broadly cut more than $500,000 in salaries, including from every non-public safety department, in order to fund additional police recruits and a “Neighborhood Investment Beautification Program.” The third is a bit more abstract: the mayor is vetoing adjustments to the budget that increased the amount of borrowing on the basis that the increased debt “will create much larger future problems.”

The council is scheduled to review the vetoes at their next regularly scheduled meeting on November 28th.

The mayor’s message to the council, available in full in PDF format, says “if the council sustains these vetoes and adopts my proposed substitute actions, there will be a Budget reduction of $507,500 and a tax levy reduction of $7,500, compared to the Council’s adopted Budget.”

The $500,000-plus salary reduction amendment was intended to pay several things: a disparity study, more police recruits and the neighborhood beautification program. The mayor’s veto preserves the funding for the study, but eliminates much of the broad personnel cost reductions. The veto and a proposed substitute action will restore $350,373 of the $572,650 salary reduction. The mayor’s veto message notes he is concerned about the growing gap between the pay of public safety employees (fire and police) and other city employees following the 2011 passage of Act 10 under the leadership of Governor Scott WalkerThe salary reductions would increase the gap by reducing pay for non-safety employees.

To achieve the savings to restore the personnel costs, the mayor partially vetoed an amendment introduced by Tony Zielinski that would eliminate two empty administrative positions in the Milwaukee Police Department to pay for more recruits. In addition, he eliminated a program introduced by alderman Russell W. Stamper, II that would create a Neighborhood Investment Beautification Program.

The extra police recruits, intended to be hired in October, would cost less than a single rank-and-file officer because they would not serve a full year during this budget, but would need a full year’s pay in all future budgets. Barrett’s veto message says “At the proposed level of 1,855, the Budget Office estimates an additional $5.8 million will be needed in the 2019 budget just to maintain Police strength.”

The mayor notes he vetoed lines in amendment 61A and 64. Those amendments give $150,000 to the Housing Infrastructure Preservation Fund and $350,000 to the Strong Homes Loan Program through borrowing. “My 2018 Proposed Budget included $76.9 million in general obligation borrowing. This reduced borrowing by $12 million from the 2017 budget, and roughly matches the level of debt retired,” says the veto notice.

His proposed substitute action would reduce the borrowing from $77.4 million to $76.9 million by eliminating additional contributions to the programs.

For more on the 2018 city budget, see my article on its passage and an article on the disparity study amendment the mayor partially vetoed.

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2 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Barrett Issues Three Budget Vetoes”

  1. Jeremy says:

    Ald Stamper is bringing the County tricks to City Hall with idiotic across the board cuts for his pet projects. In case local politicians aren’t aware, the baby boomers are retiring. Their pensions are about to come due. Generation X is much smaller so there are fewer people to replace those that leave. If cutting pay is the tactic then I hope politicians are prepared to write their own legislation because there aren’t going to be any employees left to do it.

  2. Lynn S says:

    Jeremy is so right on about Stamper. People, quit electing former county employees!

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