Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett delivers State of the City address

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett delivered his annual "State of the City" address on Monday, February 25th in the Historic Third Ward inside the Pritzlaff building.

During the annual address, Mayor Barrett highlighted what he calls a thriving arts district and the people involved in running this dynamic city.

CLICK HERE to read Mayor Barrett's entire speech

Mayor Barrett says the City of Milwaukee has been recognized by Arts Place as one of the 12 cities in the country with a thriving arts district.

"We've got great opportunities. We've got a lot of great things going on in places like the Third Ward, the Menomonee Valley, Reed Street Yards where you're going to see some development later this year. But we've got some challenges. Particularly right now with the state and the state budget.  We've got some serious challenges," Mayor Barrett said.

Mayor Barrett also discussed the challenges the City of Milwaukee faces -- including jobs, foreclosure, crime and poverty.

Tying them all together he noted city-wide there are 3,000 vacant buildings and 4,800 properties in pre-foreclosure status.  Mayor Barrett focused this portion of his speech on three neighborhoods: Amani, Metcalfe and Washington Park.

"These three neighborhoods make up about 2% of the City's total area but within these neighborhoods there are 460 vacant buildings which is 15% of the city-wide total. In 2012 13% of the City's violent crime and 8% of all crimes were committed in these three neighborhoods," Mayor Barrett said.

He also addressed the controversial residency requirement. City of Milwaukee employees have a residency requirement and must live in the city in which they work. Gov. Scott Walker wants to change this and the idea isn’t sitting well with Mayor Barrett.

Gov. Walker proposes lifting Milwaukee’s 80-year-old residency rule requiring city employees to live within city limits.

In his State of the City speech Mayor Barrett fought the idea.

"For the State to now swoop in and wipe out our home authority is the very definition of big brother government.  This is not the way to govern.  I am asking the State Legislature to leave residency a local issue.  Take it out of the budget," Mayor Barrett said.

When first announced last week, a couple of union leaders told FOX6 News they were on Gov. Walker's side with the residency issue.

"The reality of the situation is that throughout the Midwest, throughout the country, no one has this anymore," said Dave Seager of the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association.

Another hot topic brought up by Mayor Barrett on Monday -- the future of the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Barrett says a new arena is needed, but that it should be a regional and state project.