Milwaukee Council delays Mayor Barrett’s plan to spend federal dollars

Milwaukee City Council delays review of Mayor Tom Barrett’s plan to spend a quarter of the nearly $ 400 million American Rescue Plan Act federal funds the city is entitled to receive, council leaders claiming that the mayor did not set aside enough time for their review before a finance committee meeting on Wednesday.

“I look forward to reviewing the proposals carefully and meticulously, as do other board members,” Ald said. Michael Murphy, chairman of the finance committee, in a joint statement with joint board chairman Cavalier Johnson. “Giving us five working days before the committee meeting to digest these proposals is not adequate or financially wise.

Barrett claimed in an interview that he had met with Johnson and Murphy regularly before his plan was released and said the funding he was offering was urgently needed.

Barrett expected his spending plan to be presented to the finance and staff committee and joint council on July 27 on Wednesday.

Instead, it will be addressed at a special meeting in the first week of September, with proposals from board members also being delayed. The council goes on vacation in August.

The city has received around $ 197 million so far and will receive the second installment of its total allocation of $ 394.2 million next year.

Among the proposals expected to pass in September is a $ 150 million allocation for Ald’s affordable housing. Robert Bauman and a grant of $ 97.7 million to combat lead poisoning in Ald’s children. José Perez.

Barrett’s plan was released on July 13 and is said to spend around $ 93 million in areas such as jobs and skills training, street lighting, reckless driving, pandemic response, small business support , violence prevention and more.

Barrett said in an interview that he believes money is urgently needed in areas he proposes to spend, including reckless driving and violence prevention.

“Of course I want them to be able to look at (the proposals) and scrutinize them, but this is something my team has literally been briefing the aldermen on for weeks,” Barrett said.

He also said his plan only spent about a quarter of the funding and noted that the city has until the end of 2024 to allocate the nearly $ 400 million and the end of 2026 to spend it.

Murphy said although Barrett met him with Johnson, he said they only received drafts of the plan that did not contain enough information to share with other board members.

“Now is just not a good time to consider a claim for almost $ 100 million,” Murphy said.

He said board members would be held to the same standards as the Barrett administration in terms of the level of detail required in the proposals.

Murphy also said that given the speed at which the bureaucracy operates, the month-long delay is unlikely to have a substantial impact on Barrett’s proposals. He also said slowing down the proposal for a month would allow for a more transparent process.

As for Bauman’s legislation, which was before the council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development committee on Tuesday, Barrett said he had not reviewed it but said he expected council requires the same level of verification of Bauman’s proposal as that of the Barrett administration’s proposals.

“We will review the proposal,” Barrett said. “Housing is a priority for me, but it has to be done in a coordinated way with everything else. “

Barrett’s proposal includes an allowance of about $ 30 million for housing.

Bauman predicted his $ 150 million proposal would eventually pass, calling it “bold” and saying Barrett’s overall plan lacked vision. But he also predicted a chaotic process for the allocation of funds.

“No one knows where to start, so people are reluctant to ship $ 150 million without knowing what the other plans are,” Bauman said.

Contact Alison Dirr at 414-224-2383 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @AlisonDirr.

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