Common Council President Cavalier Johnson
Press Release

Committee recommends approval of ARPA omnibus proposal

Includes funding for public safety and crime prevention, housing, lead abatement, continued COVID response and more

By - Oct 15th, 2021 04:59 pm

During today’s meeting of the Finance and Personnel Committee to allocate American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, the committee recommended approval of a collaborative omnibus proposal put forward by Common Council President Cavalier Johnson and co-sponsored by Alderman Michael J. Murphy, Alderman Scott Spiker, Alderman Robert J. Bauman, Alderman José G. Pérez, Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa, Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic and Alderman Nik Kovac. The transformative proposal lifts up those in Milwaukee most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including residents living in qualified census tracts, and is an investment of $174,387,670 that tackles key areas that include: crime and public safety; housing; lead abatement; continued COVID-19 response; funding for Earn and Learn; investment in early childhood education; money to off-set lost revenues; and sustaining essential city services for taxpayers.

“As has been said time and time again, this federal funding is an immense opportunity to address key issues within our city, and I appreciate the collaboration among many of my colleagues to put together a package that benefits the residents most in need throughout the entire city,” said President Johnson. “This was truly a collaborative effort that funds the future of Milwaukee, from health, to housing and public safety, while uplifting those in need. I want to thank Council members for their time and effort on this, and the community for their input in the process. We are stronger as a community when we work together, and this ARPA package is a step toward addressing critical issues that Milwaukeeans face daily.”

The omnibus proposal allocates a total of $43,500,000 for affordable housing, an issue that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many neighborhoods across all parts of the city, including Westlawn Gardens, will benefit from this investment that seeks to promote neighborhood revitalization and promote home ownership.

The proposal also places an emphasis on improving health and safety citywide. The Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) received an allocation of $26,050,477 for the expansion of the lead abatement program in which intervention and case management would be provided for all children with a blood lead level greater than or equal to 10 micrograms per deciliter. The funding will help ensure more children and families remain safe and healthy in their homes. Additionally, $15,000,000 is allocated for the City’s continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic focused at eradicating racial disparities magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. A majority of the funds will be received by the MHD, but funding will also be provided to the Office of African-American Affairs, Milwaukee Fire Department and Milwaukee Public Libraries. A key investment of $3,270,000 would also be allocated to the City’s Office of Violence Prevention to fund the departmental special funds unfunded in the 2022 budget and to support and expand 414LIFE, magnifying the impact of state investments in addressing the root causes of violence and supporting thriving neighborhoods where residents feel safe. These health and safety investments are equitable approaches to quelling the ongoing pandemic, and support violence prevention services allowing for a balanced approach to public safety.

Jobs training and programming also received an emphasis in the omnibus proposal. An additional $1,300,000 will be provided to the Earn and Learn program, as well as an additional $5,000,000 for job training to support lead abatement workforce development and energy-efficiency upgrades to homes being remediated for lead.

With an eye on supporting future generations, the omnibus proposal allocates $7,000,000 toward early childhood education. The total includes $5,102,500 in stipends for teachers. The program is administered through the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association. $309,000 would be for dual enrollment in MATC programming, $1,059,000 for the Literacy Lab’s Leading Men Follows program and $529,000 for MKE Rising. This funding seeks to eliminate child care deserts that exist in Milwaukee and impact Black and Brown communities at a disproportionate rate.

Fiscal sustainability and responsibility also plays a key role in the omnibus proposal as the City works to grapple with ever tightening future budgets. ARPA funding would provide budget support to a variety of areas and departments to account for lost revenues during the pandemic and ensure all city residents have continued access to key services.

Funding is allocated for translation services to ensure that Milwaukee’s growing Latino and Hmong communities are able to engage equitably with city notices and resources in multiple languages.

Also included are: maintaining six engine companies within the Milwaukee Fire Department which otherwise would have been cut from the 2022 budget; funding for the Office of Early Childhood Initiatives; street lighting circuitry improvements for the city’s most problematic areas which will eliminate 20% of the calls for service for outages; The Big Clean citywide cleanup to promote neighborhood beautification; and Department of Public Works operating costs to maintain levels of service.

On top of this, to provide an investment to retain essential services, $36,049,977 would be provided to offset the MFD budget, including savings by funding $30,000,000 of MFD salaries and wages, and an additional $6,049,977 to fund MFD’s operating costs. This allocation will have a companion budget amendment to move $6,049,977 from MFD’s operating expenditures account into MPD’s 2022 Budget to fund three police recruit classes of 65 recruits each, for a total of 195 officers to ensure a balance is kept between funding violence prevention efforts and police department staffing levels.

All ARPA proposals recommended for approval will be heard at a future meeting of the Common Council. The full details on ARPA proposals can be viewed in the file for item #210894 here.

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