City of Milwaukee ends 2009 with $20 million surplus

Unlike Scott Walker, whose time in office has been plagued with budget deficits and hundreds of millions of dollars in borrowing to cover Milwaukee County’s obligations, the City of Milwaukee, led by Mayor Tom Barrett, finished 2009 with a $20 million surplus. It’s worth noting the City posted a budget surplus despite having to unexpectedly contribute $49 million to the city pension fund as a result of stock market losses in 2008, and without having to borrow the money to cover that unexpected expense. Unlike the “fiscally responsible” Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, who had to borrow the aforementioned $400 million to balance the County’s budget – thus pushing that debt onto future generations – the City of Milwaukee balanced its books by imposing employee furloughs, holding positions vacant, raising the snow-and-ice fee and limiting overtime. Mayor Barrett indicated the city’s budget surplus will be deposited in the city’s tax stabilization fund, bringing that fund to $33 million, and that fund is used to hold down taxes by pulling money out of it each year to reduce the next year’s property tax levy from what budgeted spending levels would otherwise require. As noted by Alderman Michael Murphy, 2009 was the 18th straight year that the city ran a budget surplus.

So let’s recap: County Executive Scott Walker borrowed $400 million to balance Milwaukee County’s budget, while Mayor Tom Barrett borrowed nothing to balance the City of Milwaukee’s budget. Tell me again who the fiscally responsible gubernatorial candidate is?


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15 thoughts on “City of Milwaukee ends 2009 with $20 million surplus

  1. The fiscally responsible candidate is one who would make the tough decisions…The fiscaly responsible candidate has not had a surplus every year since he got into office and still raised taxes 3% to 5%. Scott Walker is someone who is willing to make the tough decisions when he needs to ensure that the people of Milwaukee County and the State of Wisconsin are not giving there hard earned dollars to the government and instead are able to keep our economy moving by keeping money in the private economy.

    A few questions for you:

    1. Scott Walker and Tom Barrett both furloughed employees and Scott Walker was blasted for saving 9 million dollars using furloughs and Budget cuts. Will you left leaning bloggers blast Tom Barrett for his furloughing of employees and keep the same standard that you have tried to hold to Scott Walker?

    2. Milwaukee has had an average budget surplus of 16 million dollars every year since 1992. With a surplus of money, however, Mayor Tom Barret has raised the tax levy in the City of Milwaukee (not to mention fees like the $20 wheel tax) by 3-5% every year. Why do we need to raise taxes every year if we have a surplus in our Budget?

    Can we please learn to live within our means instead of using taxpayer money like a blank checkbook?

    1. Chris:

      Here’s a little factoid about the “tough decisions” Scott Walker has made in regards to taxes:

      In his proposed budget for 2003, Walker suggested a $218,708,524 tax levy. In his 2010 budget he suggests $257,637,284. That is nearly a $40 million (18%) increase over his time as county executive. These are his own numbers from his own proposed budgets.

      Next time you criticize Tom Barrett for raising taxes, make sure you spread the blame equally.

        1. squidknuckle, in which of the budgets proposed by Scott Walker was there a ZERO tax levy increase? Cite a year in which Scott Walker proposed a budget that didn’t include a tax levy increase of some sort.

          1. So let me get this straight, I debunk your statement to Chris that the reason the tax levy was in his budgets is because the county board overrode his vetoes on increasing taxes, and the onus is on me to provide you with the examples. How about this, you provide me with an example where Scott Walker’s first initial proposed budget, before it goes to the county board before they can attach their levies on it, has a tax increase.

            1. You didn’t debunk anything, because the fact is, Scott Walker has NEVER proposed a county budget that didn’t call for a tax levy increase over the previous budget he submitted.

              However, since you want examples, here’s one:

              2009 County Budget as recommended by Scott Walker: $249,889,950
              2010 County Budget as recommended by Scott Walker: $257,637,284

              I’ll do the math for you….that’s a $7,747,334 increase in the budgets submitted by Scott Walker from 2009 to 2010, or if you prefer, it’s a 3% increase.

              1. AHHHHHH. I can’t argue with you anymore. Scott Walker himself, has never EVER proposed a tax increase. The only tax increases that did occur were a result from the REST of the county board. Scott Walker vetoed, county board overrode him. That’s why there was an INCREASE between 2009 and 2010!!! THE COUNTY BOARD OVERRODE WALKER’S VETO!!! Geez, it’s like talking to a wall!

                Just look at your post on July 16th, 2009 entitled “Stay classy, Scott Walker!” where even YOU reference his no tax increase promise! Now suddenly he’s proposing tax increases left and right because the City of Milwaukee had a surplus and they are both running for Governor? If he always proposed increases, why is this the first time you’ve blogged about it? Your record sucks.

                I’m done. If you don’t get it after this, god help Wisconsin and the rest of the USA.

                1. Yeah for years these guys were squawking about Walker slashing and burning and cutting, and suddenly now he is a big spender.

  2. Could you have bent this any more? While money was borrowed, you forgot to mention that the money was invested. The money was invested at a great time while prices are low during the recession and a rebounding economy will yield great returns.

    “After borrowing the money at about 6.2%, county officials hoped to reinvest it at 8%. So far, the $400 million has done better, with those investments growing in value by nearly 20%, said a report by Marquette.” IT”S RIGHT THERE IN THE ARTICLE YOU POSTED.

    And right there in the article you posted, the city of Milwaukee relies on INVESTMENT to grow its pension fund. Geez.

    You also neglected to mention that Tom Barrett came into a budget surplus, yet still increased taxes EVERY year while in office while Scott Walker did not raise property taxes.

    What flavor is the Kool-Aid? It must be spectacular.

    1. Yeah, and there’s no risk associated with that money that was borrowed and invested, right squidknuckle? After all, there’s no danger of the market going south.

      Oh wait…

      1. I din’t say there wasn’t a risk, but if you are going to invest, now is a good time to do it. I merely pointed out your lie that 400 million was borrowed to balance the budget, it wasn’t.

        1. The $400 million was borrowed to fully fund the pension system due to the losses it incurred as a result of the market downturn, as the article says.

          1. I’m going to try this one more time, real slow. I will illustrate with two examples.

            I owe about $5000 on my car. I decide to sell my car which is worth about the same as the loan. I can either take the 5000 and pay off the car loan or I can put the money in the bank and give myself a “surplus” of 5000 dollars. I can do one or the other, I can’t have it both ways. Scott Walker and the County Board(with preapproval of the democratic controlled state legislature and Jim Doyle by the way) decided to sell the car and pay off the loan, not give themselves a surplus.

            “But squidknuckle, you have to include all debt in the budget!” Oh, really?

            Just like the unfunded liability in the county pension fund, the federal government has a 38 trillion dollar unfunded liability known as MEDICARE. If I look at the current national debt clock, oh oh oh, we are only 12 trillion in debt! How can that be? How can none of the budgets passed by congress for who knows how long not include this massive unfunded liability? Savior Obama’s proposed budget for this year has about a 1.8 trillion dollar deficit. Why isn’t it 39.8 trillion?

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