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Milwaukee Common Council passes 2023 budget 9-2

Aldermen Russell W. Stamper, II and Khalif J. Rainey voted against the budget, according to voting records.
Posted at 1:41 PM, Nov 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-04 14:48:52-04

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Common Council passed Mayor Cavalier Johnson's 2023 budget 9-2 Friday morning. It now heads to the mayor's desk for his signature or veto.

Aldermen Russell W. Stamper, II and Khalif J. Rainey voted against the budget, according to voting records.

Ald. Nikiya Dodd, who is reportedly resigning from the position at the end of the month, was spotted at City Hall and ensured the budget passed. That still meant four aldermanic seats were - literally - empty on Friday. Voters have yet to fill those seats after a series of resignations and one firing rocked the Common Council.

The budget came out to be about $1.72 billion, a city spokesperson said in a statement after the vote.

The Common Council passed 26 amendments to the proposed budget, according to their statement. The tax rate in 2023 will be $9.16, a buck less than in 2022. The levy total will be $311,328,570 which is a 2% increase from the year before, the city said.

Mayor Johnson has until Tuesday, Nov. 15 to sign the budget or issue any vetoes.

Read the budget in full here.

What's in the Milwaukee 2023 budget?

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson released the budget in September, and during that announcement, he underlined the city's fiscal constraints. In fact, he went as far as to say that the city is hamstrung and now forced to cut services.

Here is a snapshot of the numbers.

The mayor's total budget proposal is $1.7 billion and includes a 3-percent increase in the tax levy. A typical homeowner will pay about $48 more in taxes and fees.

cavalier johnson
Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson

But the big message from the mayor was that costs are climbing and revenue is flat. Because of that, he's proposed a 1-percent staffing reduction to the police department, which comes out to 17 positions. The mayor says that will be covered by attrition, but he can't say that will be the case in the future. The fire department is also earmarked for staffing cuts.

As for how to address Milwaukee's fiscal problem the mayor says his attention is focused on Madison; he's actually heading there Tuesday to again speak with lawmakers. Mayor Johnson says legislators have the power to unlock additional revenue options for our city. Currently, Milwaukee does not have access to a hotel tax, an income tax or a sales tax. He's optimistic action could be taken in the upcoming legislative session.

"Our partners in the legislature realize that we have a fundamental problem. It's going to get really bad - it already is bad - it's going to get worse if they don't come up with a solution to help us solve the problem," Johnson previously said to the Common Council.

The mayor's 2023 budget plan involves using ARPA money to avoid what he calls draconian cuts. But it's not a long-term solution.

And the mayor says Milwaukee is not alone. He's talked to leaders of other communities in Wisconsin who are looking at drastic cuts in services, even going as far as considering turning off every other streetlight to save money.

Cuts could come to the city's libraries, including 17 fewer positions possibly.

Under the mayor's proposal four branches would limit hours, as well as, use of computes and community rooms while working with less staff. Programming would be eliminated at those sites.

However, those impacted branches will be near other branches that are adding staff to do outreach.

"Some people don't have access. They can't come. they can't go to a different location this is the only location they had," said Myles Horton, who uses the library regularly.

"At the same time, you will see more pop-up libraries bringing resources, services, and wi-fi to targeted communities and events. Online and virtual resources will see a revamp and expansion," Mayor Johnson said.

"My biggest hope is that it's it gives us a benefit. A lot of times you know we're promised benefits that or we're promise we're gonna get these resources which we don't always see all the time," said Jaycelan Stewart, another regular visitor to the library.

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