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WI shared revenue bill adds staffing quotas for Milwaukee first responders

By Mariam Mackar,


Republican lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers have reached a bipartisan deal in a plan that gives more tax money to local governments and saves Milwaukee and Milwaukee County from a looming fiscal crisis.

READ MORE: Wisconsin shared revenue: Bipartisan deal reached to save Milwaukee from bankruptcy

The city would be allowed to raise its sales tax by 2% and the county by .04% to cover ballooning pension costs. The agreement removed a provision that would require approval from voters. Instead, it needs sign-off from a two-thirds majority of the Common Council and County Board.

The new money still comes with strings attached for the city including a requirement to maintain certain staffing levels for police and fire.

The fire station on Franklin and Brady hasn't housed a rig or emergency crews for nearly five years. It’s one of 7 stations since 2018 that have had to shut down due to budget cuts.

Stephen Macek and his wife live down the street from that station and say it would only benefit the busy Brady Street community to see its doors reopen.

“This corner here a person died by a hit and run a couple years ago and there was another just recently,” explained Macek. “They have to do something to monitor the speed of the traffic and maybe having an emergency crew here would be important for all the injuries.”

The final version of the state's Republican-backed shared revenue bill adds certain quotas for the city's first responders, which may help bring back firefighters to the building.

For firefighters that quota is 218. There are currently only 192 working in the city.

Fire Chief Aaron Lipski tells TMJ4 adding those extra 26 to the roster would help reopen numerous fire stations.

The bill stipulates the amount of Milwaukee police on the streets, too, guaranteeing 1,725 sworn-in officers at all times. Right now, there are 1,618.

Republican legislators say the overall deal to increase shared revenue and the local sales tax could be a win to address the pension crisis and public safety funding.

“These funds must, and I cannot emphasize the word must, be used to address [Milwaukee’s] unfunded pension liability and to maintain and grow their law enforcement fire protection and emergency services,” said the bill’s creator, Rep. Tony Kurtz. “Once again, public safety, folks.”

No timeline yet on when voting for the sales taxes will take place.

The city's Common Council and the Milwaukee County Board would each need a two-thirds vote to pass their respective tax.

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