Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Milwaukee's proposed budget includes library cuts

Calling it the "toughest budget we have ever faced," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett presented a budget this morning with $20 million in spending cuts and the elimination of 180 full-time positions, according to a report in Among other cuts, the budget would require closing two libraries, cutting two fire companies and 56 police officers. Barrett also presented an alternative, "preferred" budget that included a 4.8 percent increase in fees and property taxes for the average homeowner. With the fee increase, there would still be $13 million in cuts, but no library closures, though hours would be reduced. His preferred budget also would freeze cost of living adjustments for managers, eliminate 100 positions, trim $1.5 million from the library system and reduce some public works services. While there are many cuts, his preferred budget also includes a $5.4 million increase for street maintenance, $1 million for the Villard Street library improvement project, $325,000 for a youth jobs program and $2 million for an automated materials processing and checkout system for the Central Library.

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