Barrett Issues 8 Budget Vetoes
Vetoes attack borrowing, garbage truck replacement, blight elimination.
Mayor Tom Barrett used his broad veto power to strike eight of the 59 amendments the Common Council made to the city’s $1.6 billion 2020 budget. This includes a portion of the council’s large omnibus amendment that passed on a 12-3 vote. The council needs 10 votes to override any veto.
His vetoes struck at three issues, the biggest of which was expanding the city’s debt load. “I am concerned with the additional borrowing added to the budget and have vetoed amendments that add to our debt,” said Barrett in his 14-page veto message. “Every added dollar we borrow now will tie up crucial future dollars and make future budgets more difficult.” Five of his eight vetoes attacked this issue, cutting $1.7 million in new borrowing. Barrett’s 2020 budget proposal would have reduced the city’s general obligation borrowing by $2.3 million over 2019 levels to $82.4 million.
Barrett’s debt vetoes strike, at least temporarily, proposals to borrow to fund alley repair ($600,000), expanding the COP House/Community Resource Hub program ($200,000), a rapid response cleanup team ($60,000) and garbage cans ($128,000). The items were included in the omnibus amendment, which passed with only council members Robert Donovan, Mark Borkowski and Scott Spiker in opposition.
Barrett told Urban Milwaukee in an interview that it wasn’t a matter of not wanting those programs, but a matter of simply not having the money.
The Mayor told Urban Milwaukee he only learned of the proposed pilot program after it was introduced during the budget process and thought it was worthy of funding.
Barrett also vetoed items that would have taken funding earmarked for his 10,000 affordable homes campaign and used it for blight elimination in the form of deconstruction and demolition and shifted funding from buying one new garbage truck ($320,000) in favor of buying 6,215 more replacement residential garbage carts.
The blight elimination proposal, sponsored by Alderman Robert Bauman, involved two amendments to reallocate $400,000 in funds. “Why are we removing money from the 10,000 Homes initiative when it sounds like a good initiative? The problem is that they haven’t spent anything,” said Bauman shortly before the council unanimously passed the amendments. Barrett, in his veto message, said the council should continue to support the 10,000 Homes initiative announced in the Mayor’s 2018 State of the City address.
The council is next scheduled to meet on November 26th. The council overrode almost all of Barrett’s 2019 budget vetoes.
The move comes as the council braces for increasingly difficult budgets. The city’s annual pension contribution is expected to more than double in four years, consuming an additional $90 million annually. In 2020, the city will contribute approximately $70 million to maintain the pension as fully funded as the city charter requires. Barrett praised the council for maintaining his allocation for $8 million to the pension reserve fund.
Barrett’s vetoes did not impact the city’s proposed tax rate for 2020. An owner of the average Milwaukee home ($117,000 appraised value) will see their property tax bill increase $37 due to growing home values.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this article said Barrett vetoed the entire omnibus amendment. His actions only vetoed the borrowing and associated new projects including in the amendment.
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.
- City Hall: Council Overrides Every Barrett Veto - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 26th, 2019
- City Hall: Barrett Issues 8 Budget Vetoes - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 19th, 2019
- This afternoon the City of Milwaukee just got less safe - Ald. Bob Donovan - Nov 8th, 2019
- City Hall: Council Cuts Police, Adopts $1.6 Billion Budget - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 8th, 2019
- City Hall: Proposal Uses Lead Abatement Funds for Marketing - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 7th, 2019
- Transportation: Street Safety Funding Passes Committee - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 6th, 2019
- Omnibus budget amendment supports birthing moms pilot, violence interrupters, participatory budget initiative and more - Ald. Milele Coggs - Nov 1st, 2019
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Proposal Would Fund Emergency Housing - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 31st, 2019
- City Hall: Proposal Gives Residents a Basic Income - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 31st, 2019
- City Hall: Community Outpouring Over City Budget - Isiah Holmes - Oct 14th, 2019
Read more about 2020 Milwaukee Budget here