Residents have spoken, and the message is clear: You value our first-class fire and police services.
In all, 1,351 residents responded our recent community-wide survey on public safety funding. Thank you to everyone who filled one out. This feedback will help the city decide how to address our budget challenges moving forward.
The survey results were presented at last night’s council meeting. The presentation is available on the city website.
Highlights from the presentation include:
- 88% of respondents indicated that maintaining the current level of emergency services is important to them and their families.
- Three-quarters of the respondents encouraged the city to explore additional funding options to maintain the current level of EMS services rather than reducing services to balance the budget.
- A majority of respondents support a referendum to increase local property taxes in order to maintain existing fire and emergency medical services and hire two additional police officers.
As I have posted previously, a continuing decline in outside funding for paramedic services – especially funding from Milwaukee County – has created a significant budget gap that continues to grow. The city must take action if it is to preserve locally provided paramedic services into the future. We have also identified a need for additional police officers to fulfill all of the department’s response and preventative responsibilities.
The question is, how do we accomplish that? That is where the survey comes in — making sure your voice is heard loud and clear as we plan for the future.
Again, thank you for stepping up.
Next steps: The common council will continue to evaluate the community’s feedback before making a final decision on whether or not to proceed with a referendum as part of the 2018 budget process. If a referendum is scheduled, it would likely be in early November. We will keep you posted.
My ask: Continue to educate yourself on these issues, and be heard. Your voices always matter.
As a reminder, the city developed an Assessment of Public Safety Funding Options to provide additional information on this issue.