MILWAUKEE -- City officials are weighing in on the public safety cuts in Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's 2020 budget proposal.
The mayor is saying public safety employee pensions are expected to rise dramatically by 2023 -- which is why certain cuts are being proposed now. But two city aldermen say this is not a solution -- and it will only lead to an increase in crime.
"In my 20 years, I've never seen a worse budget than this one presented to the aldermen," said Alderman Bob Donovan.
Donovan held nothing back as he told reporters on Thursday, Sept. 26 his thoughts on the potential cuts ahead for public safety.
"The warning to our residents is very simple. if you live in a neighborhood that's challenged by crime or disorder, prepare yourself. it's only going to get worse," Donovan said.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett presented on Tuesday, Sept. 24 his proposed city budget to the Milwaukee Common Council. The budget plan presents a dire outlook for the city’s pension fund — if action is not taken by city leaders now.
“Here’s the biggest problem heading our way. By 2023, we will face challenges to the levy-supported budget that put us in an untenable situation,” the mayor said earlier this week. “Our employer pension contribution, driven by public safety, is currently projected to rise dramatically. Our state shared revenue payment remains flat — certainly not keeping up with inflation. And our costs for providing basic and necessary city services climb every year.”
Mayor Barrett proposed setting aside $8 million to begin to meet the pension obligation that will come in 2023, with the city’s current annual contribution to the pension fund roughly $70 million.
The mayor is pushing for support of a county-wide sales tax. He suggested if the sales tax were approved, there would be no cuts to the police and fire departments.
But before Milwaukee County voters could even approve a possible increase, the Legislature would have to allow that referendum -- and right now, that is unlikely.
"I've said this before and I`ll say it again. If you don't have public safety, you don't have anything," said Alderman Mark Borkowski on Thursday.
"What we have here is a Democratic mayor who can't seem to work effectively with a Republican legislature," Donovan said.
FOX6 News made multiple attempts to get Mayor Barrett's reaction to the criticism by the aldermen. We have not heard back.
A budget hearing is scheduled for next Friday.