“Shouldn’t even have a streetcar:” Milwaukee alderman says mayor’s 2018 budget is off the rails

MILWAUKEE -- One day after a 2018 Milwaukee budget is proposed, an alderman is speaking out against the streetcar. Milwaukee Alderman Tony Zielinski says he doesn't want it getting in the way of budgetary needs -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says the streetcar isn't the problem.

"No more expansion. We shouldn't even have a streetcar in the first place," said Milwaukee Alderman Tony Zielinski.

Tony Zielinski

Alderman Zielinski says expanding the streetcar would require city money that isn't there.

"While the mayor is saying we don't have enough money to adequately fund police and firefighters, he's still pushing this streetcar," Zielinski said.

The proposed 2018 budget would cut police officer and firefighter positions, close some fire houses, and raise property taxes. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says it has nothing to do with the streetcar.

Tom Barrett

"I can tell you, I'm not happy with the budget. I'm not happy with the budget and that fact there's a $22 million increase in our pension liability," said Mayor Barrett.

Barrett insists no property tax dollars would go to the trolley.

"Let me make this very, very clear: there is no property tax income as a result of the streetcar in this budget," Barrett said.

"They're trying to mislead the public, they're trying to confuse the public," Zielinski said.

While the two disagree on ways to fix budget shortfalls, they agree something needs to happen.

"We can't print money, so we have to find a way to deal with that issue," said Barrett.

The mayor has been calling for a half-cent city sales tax to help with budget deficits. The state would need to approve a referendum on the tax. Meantime, the council will vote on adopting the budget in November.