MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on Tuesday, September 23rd released his proposed budget for the city. Public safety and help for homeowners are two issues high on the agenda -- but the proposal, if approved, would raise property taxes.
Mayor Barrett took to the podium on Tuesday morning to lay out how he feels the city should spend money next year. He is asking property owners to chip in more -- an extra 1.2 percent in property taxes.
"It's a responsible budget. We came in under the rate of inflation, and I think that's what people want," Mayor Barrett said.
"The Mayor is going to have to prove to us that the extra $3 million he wants to spend of our hard-earned money is worth it," Alderman Nik Kovac, who chairs the city's Finance and Personnel Committee said.
Mayor Barrett says he wants to hire 85 more Milwaukee police officers. He says adding these officers should more than cover any upcoming retirements -- but one Milwaukee alderman doesn't agree.
"Obviously you have to have a strong professional police force. We are doing that again. We are showing that commitment," Mayor Barrett said.
"The number of officers in next year's budget is really only providing for an additional 35 -- not 85," Alderman Bob Donovan said.
Housing is another key issue Mayor Barrett addresses in his proposed budget. The budget proposal pledges more than $10 million to not only help people on the verge of foreclosure, but deal with the large number of properties the city already owns.
"I would certainly support investing more money in the 'Strong Neighborhoods' program, as least as much as last year. The crisis has not gone away. If anything, the crisis is growing," Alderman Donovan said.
Mayor Barrett's full proposed budget is out, and the Milwaukee Common Council is preparing to get public input next month while they scrutinize the proposal.
"Increase the strength of the police department, to maintain our infrastructure, work on creating jobs. I think that people understand doing that at below the cost of inflation is a good bargain," Mayor Barrett said.
The property tax increase would cost the average homeowner an extra $20.
Mayor Barrett is also asking for $100,000 so the Milwaukee Police Department can try out wearable body cameras.