APPROVED: Common Council okays $1.51 billion city budget for 2015

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The Milwaukee Common Council on Monday, November 10th approved a 2015 city budget.

The 2015 budget levies $256,767,059 million in property taxes -- an increase of 1.2  percent from last year that will cost $4.10 more in taxes for the owner of home valued at $103,000 -- the median home value in the city. The approved levy comes in $103,561 below Mayor Tom Barrett's initial proposed levy as a result of amendments made and efficiencies created by the Common Council.

The total budget approved by the council is $1.51 billion, a decrease of $2.84 million from the budget proposed by Mayor Barrett.

“Council members worked hard to ensure that this budget protects taxpayers while reflecting the priorities of our constituents. Without increasing the burden on residents, we were able to find a way to channel additional support to combat the foreclosure crisis head-on while also piloting some innovative public safety initiatives," Alderman Nik Kovac, chair of the budget-shaping Finance and Personnel Committee said.

The Common Council signed off on an increase in transitional jobs positions that will be offered by the Department of Public Works in the year ahead. Focused on providing work and fostering jobs skills for unemployed residents, the transitional jobs program will put 130 people to work on landscaping, road repair and other areas next year—an expansion from the initial group of 100 participants in 2014.

Over the course of six weeks, council members offered more than 40 amendments to Mayor Barrett's budget, of which 13 were adopted. These include:

    On a 6 to 9 vote, the council defeated a measure that would have eliminated funding for 12 additional police officer positions proposed by Mayor Barrett. As a result, all 85 of the new police officers Mayor Barrett proposed will be hired in the 2015 budget year, increasing the average sworn strength to 1,880 when attrition is factored in.

    Common Council President Michael Murphy thanked council members for their thoughtful work and deliberation on the 2015 budget.

    “Striking the balance between maintaining services and fiscal responsibility is as challenging as it’s ever been under the current budget constraints that the state places on the city. I commend Alderman Kovac and the Finance and Personnel Committee for ably handling the task," President Murphy said.

    The council also approved an amendment sponsored by President Murphy that makes it easier for food dealers to do business in the City of Milwaukee.

    Previously, the city’s ordinance pertaining to licensing of food dealers required that a temporary food dealer license be obtained for $100 for the first day and $35 for each subsequent day up to 20 days. President Murphy’s amendment repealed, for restaurants, the $35 additional day fee and establishes a flat-rate fee in lieu thereof. In addition, the amendment creates a temporary food dealer license fee structure in which an operator holding a city of Milwaukee food dealer license pays a reduced fee for a temporary food dealer license.

    “Changes were needed to make sure these food-related businesses were not being hurt or discouraged from doing business in the city, especially during special events and the warmer months,” President Murphy said.

    The amendment also increases the temporary food dealer licenses fee per temporary event for:

      Also included in the budget is a modest $16.18 increase in the fees homeowners pay for services including solid waste, snow and ice control, sewer and storm sewer.