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Budget Brief: 2015 Proposed City of Milwaukee Budget

For the most part, the issues confronting City of Milwaukee officials as they prepared the 2015 proposed budget were quite familiar. Faced with limited growth potential in their two major revenue streams (state shared revenue and the property tax), as well as increasing pressure to use property tax resources to address pension obligations and employee health care costs, the challenge again was to determine how to preserve essential city services without depleting reserves or exacerbating long-term funding needs.

The 2015 proposed budget attempts to meet that challenge with a mix of fee increases, contributions from special funds and reserves, health care changes, and increased borrowing for capital improvements. When combined with a modest property tax increase, these strategies allow the City to maintain police and fire staffing levels, address key infrastructure challenges, and continue to grapple with the impacts of the foreclosure crisis. While largely bereft of major new initiatives – with the exception of a new “Compete Milwaukee” initiative to address unemployment – the budget also continues to stay true to a multi-year fiscal sustainability strategy that aims to position the City to meet its long-term retirement and infrastructure obligations.

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