It’s no secret Milwaukee Alderman Tony Zielinski absolutely hates the idea of a streetcar in Milwaukee. After all, Ald. Zielinski voted with conservative Aldermen Jim Bohl, Joe Dudzik, and Bob Donovan to delay Common Council approval of the streetcar, and Ald. Zielinski recently compared the funding for the streetcar as a “shell game.”
Zielinski compares the proposed funding of the $123.9 million streetcar project to a shell game, one in which he says he won’t be duped. Using property tax revenue to fund the streetcar rather than putting it back into the city treasury where it could be used to repair failing infrastructure, pay for police and fire services, and expand the bus system, he said, is a sleight of hand, and it makes him fume.
Zielinski’s opposition to the streetcar reflects the sentiments of his constituents who are against it, many of whom are struggling to pay their home mortgages and property taxes. “The strong majority of my constituents were opposed to it when I went door-to-door two years ago. And they phone me. They tell me they are struggling to pay their mortgages and property taxes. We have furloughed cops, we have browned-out fire engines, and people are complaining we don’t fill in potholes fast enough. In this environment the streetcar cannot be our first priority,” he said.
Referencing the projected $59 million the proposed three downtown TIDs (Tax Incremental Financing Districts) will generate, he said, “My problem is that but for the streetcar, the $59 million resulting from these increments would go towards needed city services. Supporters cannot pretend that this is found money. This is lost tax revenue!…I do think the TIDs will generate these increments and that is my problem. That money should be used for property tax relief or needed city services.”
I’m not entirely sure how a so-called progressive like Ald. Zielinski could ally himself with conservatives like Jim Bohl, Joe Dudzik, and Bob Donovan in opposition to a streetcar in Milwaukee and still think he’s on the right side of the issue.