When the Milwaukee Common Council’s debate on the 2015 city budget ended Friday, the legislators had made few changes to Mayor Tom’s Barrett’s spending plan and the bottom line remained at $1.5 billion.
Though aldermen trimmed the property tax levy for next year by $103,000, that was not enough to reduce the city’s property tax rate for the 2015 budget.
The tax rate needed to generate the levy is $10.63 per $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of less than 5 cents from the final rate for the 2014 budget.
Since the average assessed value of Milwaukee residences dropped this year, the owner of an average home will pay $4.52 more in city property taxes for 2015 than this year, according to budget officials.
The total levy will rise 1.2% to $256.7 million, up nearly $2.9 million from this year, under the budget adopted Friday by the council on a 14-1 vote. Ald. Bob Donovan, a mayoral candidate in 2016, was the lone no vote.
Barrett has seven business days to decide whether he will veto any changes made by the council. He plans to meet with city budget officials Monday to review the amendments, particularly those that removed major construction or remodeling projects in favor of spending equivalent funds on other programs.
The mayor said two of the capital projects removed by the council are still needed: building a Fire Department repair shop annex at S. 1st and W. Virginia streets at a cost of $2.9 million; and remodeling the eighth floor of City Hall to accommodate the planned move there of the city attorney’s offices at a cost of $3.1 million.
“Those issues won’t go away,” he said.
At its meeting Friday, the council did not change municipal service charges included in the 2015 budget:
■ Solid waste charge of $48.60 per quarter, or annual cost of $194.40, for residences with one garbage cart. The fee is up $7.
■ Annual snow and ice control fee of $36.62 for owners of properties with the typical 40 feet of frontage. Cost is up $2.40.
■ Local sanitary sewer use charge for a typical residence of $93.28 per year, up $2.70.
■ Local storm sewer charge of $71.84 per residential unit, up $4.08.
The 2015 budget gives pay raises of 3.9% to 2,331 workers to compensate them for state-mandated pension contributions. The pay increases will cost the city $4.8 million.
The city also will eliminate the practice of mandatory furlough days as a budget-saving measure for all non-uniformed employees, at an additional cost of $2.7 million.
Those funds come from the $8 million in savings the city gained from not paying the employee pension contribution in 2015 for the workers, said Budget and Management Director Mark Nicolini.
Barrett has said the employees deserve the boost in pay as compensation for the pension contributions after going without wage increases in 2011 and 2012 and contributing more toward health care costs in recent years.
The council left intact budget priorities of public safety, work skills training in transitional jobs and fighting foreclosures, Barrett noted.
Barrett praised the council for its deliberations.
“I was hopeful we would maintain public safety as the highest priority,” he said.
Before adopting the budget, the council rejected two substantial amendments to Barrett’s proposed Police Department budget for next year: transferring $1.2 million out of the property tax-funded police overtime account; and deploying 12 fewer officers in 2015 than recommended by the mayor.
The Police Department’s budget of nearly $249 million for 2015 includes an increase of $4.9 million.
The council approved one amendment to create a crisis response team assigned to work with police and trained to counsel children and others traumatized by witnessing violence while living in high-crime neighborhoods.