Milwaukee Mayor Warns of Potential Layoffs
Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee has warned that the city may face layoffs in the public sector, due to budget cuts announced for fiscal-year 2018.
Barrett said that the city may be forced to cut as many as 84 police officer positions, 75 firefighter positions, six public health nursing jobs, and 10 code inspector jobs. He also warned that the latest budget cuts could affect the size of next year’s classes for police recruits.
The city requested $26.9 million more in state funding for fiscal-year 2018 compared to fiscal-year 2017. However, proposed budget cuts are forcing the city to take some stern actions which, in addition to the job cuts, include the closure of two public libraries in the city.
The city’s police department, in particular, is expected to take a significant hit from the budget cuts. The police department stands to lose as much as $7.3 million in funding in lieu of the budget cuts.
Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn is now proposing to eliminate the recruit classes for the year 2018. According to the police chief, the proposed budget cuts would reduce the number of sworn officers to 1,748, which is the lowest figure that the Milwaukee Police Department has seen in this century. By comparison, the current sworn strength of the police department is 1,888 officers. (Source: Ibid.)
At the same time, the City of Milwaukee has seen a significant surge in expenses related to pension benefits, primarily being paid to retired police officers and firefighters. This is because the city hired a significant number of officers in the early- and mid-1990s. The majority of those employees have retired this year. By the end of May of this year, 90 police officers had already retired.
Barrett insists that he does not want to see fewer police officers in the city, saying “I’m trying to do everything I can to find a way to avoid this.” The mayor has been urging Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and state legislators to increase payments to the City of Milwaukee but, so far, his efforts have borne little fruit.
“Mayor Tom Barrett: Milwaukee could lose 84 police officers due to budget shortfall,” Journal Sentinel, June 10, 2017.