Common Council asks state to put windfall toward shared revenue

On a unanimous vote, the Milwaukee Common Council today passed a measure that urges Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the state legislature to restore shared revenue to 2002 levels, in light of an unexpected $126.6 million windfall in state tax collections.

For more than 90 years, the state shared revenue program has been a key component in helping municipalities statewide provide vital local services and property tax relief to residents. But over the past decade, municipalities have had to make due as Democratic and Republican administrations have cut more than $128.4 million from the program.

“Governor Walker has repeatedly outlined job creation and economic growth as his top priorities,” Alderman Terry L. Witkowski said. “But to facilitate jobs and growth, municipalities need revenue for essential services, crucial infrastructure, and development incentives for business—not to mention the relief we can provide property taxpayers.”

The City of Milwaukee has watched its annual shared revenue and Expenditure Restraint Program funding from the state drop from $248.1 million in 2002 to $226.8 million in 2012, and faces a projected decline to $218.59 million for 2013.

“If the state restored the $9.7 million cut in the last biennial budget,” Alderman and Finance and Personnel Committee Chairman Michael J. Murphy said, “that could be used to pay for enhancements to essential services like police and fire protection, sanitation and our libraries, as well as provide property tax relief to hardworking taxpayers.”

The Common Council’s measure mirrors a similar resolution adopted by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities. The Common Council also urges the immediate restoration of $48 million cut from shared revenue in 2011, while municipalities are preparing their 2013 budgets.