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Budget Brief: 2016 Proposed City of Milwaukee Budget

Our analysis of the 2016 City of Milwaukee proposed budget finds that the budget avoids cuts to key services and limits increases in local revenues. However, the beneficial fiscal circumstances that have eased pressure on the City's finances in recent years may be running their course.

Highlights of our analysis include the following:

  • The budget makes targeted investments in priority areas and holds the property tax levy at the 2015 amount by leveraging $5 million in healthcare savings, $1 million in workers compensation savings, and increasing the transfer from the Tax Stabilization Fund.
  • The proposed budget for the Milwaukee Police Department contains no change in the number of sworn officers while eliminating three furlough days and providing funding for body cameras. Compared to four peer cities, we find that the City's proposed per capita police spending is on the higher side and staffing levels are near the middle of the peer group.
  • The City has made an effort in recent years to raise fees to recoup the full cost of certain services, such as solid waste and snow and ice removal. Charges for Services now comprise 20.5% of total revenues (compared to 12.5% in 2005) and have increased by 88% during the past decade.
  • State shared revenue comprises 40% of the City's overall revenue and has decreased 4% since 2005 in nominal terms. Milwaukee is much more reliant on intergovernmental revenue than most of its peer cities.


Full Report* | Blog | Press Release


Media Coverage

"Analysis Shows City, County Budgets Propose Modest Changes"
WUWM Lake Effect

"Proposed city budget would prevent cuts to services"
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


* The revised report corrects an error in our original comparison of proposed 2016 police department expenditures between Milwaukee and four other cities.