'Going to start impacting taxpayers:' No resolution in sight after streetcar expansion funding failed to pass

MILWAUKEE -- City leaders in May failed to pass the funding measure that would allow for the expansion of Milwaukee's streetcar route, and there's no immediate resolution in sight.

Alderman Tony Zielinski, a longtime critic of the project, said it's a sign that city leaders and their constituents do not support the streetcar's expansion -- and instead of wasting resources, the money for the expansion should be diverted, and used to help secure the city's infrastructure.

"No. This doesn't surprise me," said Alderman Zielinski.

Alderman Tony Zielinski

City leaders have not been able to get funding measures out of committee.

"Information is coming to light that it's going to start impacting the taxpayers of Milwaukee," said Zielinski.

Zielinski noted uncertainty regarding how to best fund the existing and expanded routes as the reason for the holdup.

"We're looking at a $1M to $1.5M  shortfall," said Zielinski.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

A spokeswoman for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett issued this statement to FOX6 News:

“We’ve presented the Common Council with a viable plan to make one of the largest single public infrastructure investments in the neighborhoods in our city’s history. We’ve worked hard to address many of the council members’ concerns and continue to have productive conversations on how to ensure the entire community benefits from the expansion of the streetcar. While we’re eager to continue those discussions, the time for action is now. Our proposal utilizes funding from a variety of TIDs, some of which are set to expire in the near future. Continued inaction from the Council will jeopardize our ability to complete this project utilizing the existing funding sources, potentially closing the door on this monumental opportunity to invest in the future of our neighborhoods.”

Alderman Zielinski said it's not enough.

"It is pure absurdity to continue to move forward with this streetcar initiative," said Zielinski.

The statement from Mayor Barrett's office noted decisions must be made soon, with funding grants set to expire.

"The Zoning Committee is scheduled to meet July 23. If we don't take up this matter before the 23 agenda, we're out of session in August, so the next time we could even look at this again is September," said Zielinski.

Getting the issue resolved appears to be the only thing all parties agree on.