September 20, 2014

Mayors seek focus on shared revenue

Wisconsin mayors may be looking for some the state’s revenue surplus. Governor Scott Walker cut shared revenues to municipalities two years ago, and the state’s mayors are likely going to be asking for some of those losses to be made good, now that the state is projecting a revenue surplus. It’s a matter of maintaining vital services, according to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

“People expect police protection, they expect fire protection, they expect to have libraries and snow removal and garbage pickup,” said Barrett. “Those are not frills. Those are fundamentals as far as I’m concerned.”

Racine Mayor John Dickert said the city has been finding efficiencies for years, because of cuts to shared revenues. “We had shared revenue cuts under Governor Doyle as well,” Dickert said. “But the state right now is sitting on a surplus, and all we’re asking is that the state government provide the funds back to the cities that they’ve sent to the state.”

“We want to make sure that we are not abandoned by state government,” said Barrett. “That means a recognition of the need for a strong relationship between local government and the state government.”

Dickert said it’s important for the Walker administration to know that the cities are the key to economic growth in Wisconsin. “The way that you do that, is you rebuild your infrastructures and build your transportation opportunities, and make it easy for businesses to locate or expand in Wisconsin,” said Dickert, who earlier this year was reelected as president of the Urban Alliance of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities. “I think the cities are ready to sit down and talk with the governor about how we can make jobs our number one priority.” 

Dickert even has a dollar figure in mind – he says putting $48 million of the surplus back into shared revenue would at least restore cities to where they were prior to the most recent round of cuts to the program.