Barrett Issues Three Budget Vetoes
Will council override Barrett? They'll have to decide next Tuesday.
Mayor Tom Barrett has issued three budget vetoes, on the last day he was eligible to do so.
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 $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 Walker. The 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.
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