Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

2022 City Budget Process Kicks Off

Several chances for citizens to learn about budget, as city braces for nearly impossible 2023 budget.

By - Aug 17th, 2021 08:15 pm
Jericho / CC BY (

Jericho / CC BY (

It’s time to discuss the 2022 Milwaukee budget!

In an attempt to drive up interest and engagement in an otherwise dull topic, Mayor Tom Barrett proclaimed this week is Budget Awareness Week. Daily events include a public hearing on the city’s fiscal situation, two in-person budgeting events, a presentation on the $394 million American Rescue Plan Act allocation and an online survey.

The week serves as the public start to a potentially acrimonious process to determine how the city will spend $1.6 billion in 2022 and set itself up for a very difficult 2023 budget that could involve cutting one in every six city workers as a result of a pension funding crisis.

The city must increase its annual pension contribution in 2023 to offset declining pension fund returns and increasing costs. The size of the increase, estimated at $76.6 million annually, is expected to affect every city department, potentially causing a cascading series of layoffs and service reductions or eliminations.

But before that day of reckoning can arrive, the city must adopt its 2022 budget.

The most formal Budget Awareness Week event is Barrett’s 2022 budget hearing, where Barrett and budget director Dennis Yaccarino will give a presentation on the city’s fiscal situation and hear feedback from the public. Similar to last year, that virtual event will be recorded and available to view later. It is scheduled for Tuesday evening from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Wednesday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Cristo Rey High School, the city will host a “Making $ense of City Budgeting Exercise.” The event will also take place Saturday morning from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Employ Milwaukee, 2342 N. 27th St. The event is focused on explaining how the city budget works.

On Thursday from 5:30 to 7 p.m., mayoral representatives will present Barrett’s plan for the $394 million federal ARPA funding allocation. Barrett’s $93 million “summer plan” is being held by the Common Council until early September.

Friday’s event is to encourage people to take the 2022 budget priority survey. The survey is available now in English and Spanish. The 2022 survey focuses on priorities, not specific spending allocations.

Following the budget hearing, Barrett must present his executive budget proposal to the Common Council by September 24. A joint public hearing will be held on the proposal on October 4. The council will then spend much of the next month reviewing the budget before adopting any amendments on November 5. Barrett can then veto any changes, but the council has overridden most Barrett vetoes in recent years.

The 2021 budget cut the number of police officers by 120 through attrition, not layoffs. But the savings from the cut was only $432,000 because of the growing salaries and benefits of sworn officers, whose collective-bargaining rights are heavily protected under state law.

The city cannot raise its property tax levy or institute new taxes to increase revenue. It has reduced the actual property tax rate in recent years, a fact offset by increasing assessments for many property owners.

A new street lighting fee was instituted last year, offsetting the city’s maintenance expenses, and levied against all property owners regardless of tax status. The city’s portion of the vehicle registration fee was also increased from $20 to $30. The proceeds on the $20 version of the fee reduced the street replacement cycle by several decades and reduced special assessments.

More information on the budget process is available on the Department of Administration website.

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Categories: City Hall, Politics, Weekly

One thought on “City Hall: 2022 City Budget Process Kicks Off”

  1. sbaldwin001 says:

    “The 2021 budget cut the number of police officers by 120 through attrition, not layoffs. But the savings from the cut was only $432,000 because of the growing salaries and benefits of sworn officers, whose collective-bargaining rights are heavily protected under state law.”

    Effectively, what this says is that the officers with more seniority are getting more while the officers with less seniority are getting closer to the door. Here’s what to look for in the future from Milwaukee city government: requests for voluntary aides and assistants along with use of contract and temporary employees. In other words, a two-tiered system, and the implication will be that if you start in the lower tier, you just might be invited into the upper tier. But no promises.

    Yup, we’re all in this together.

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