Firefighters, Others Protest City Budget Cuts
MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee firefighters are trying to turn up the heat on the mayor's proposed budget cuts. They weren't the only ones speaking out at a public hearing Tuesday night, but they were the only group calling it a life or death situation.
"We accept the fact that we may die in the line of duty," said firefighter Brent Jones, "but please don’t accelerate that for us."
They fear lives are on the line if the mayor continues to cut ladder truck crews from five firefighters to four.
"If one of you were in a fire what would you pay me to rescue you," asked firefighter David Seager. "What is your life worth?"
The mayor says firefighters keep making the same argument year after year.
"This budget doesn’t lay off a single firefighter or police officer," said Barrett, "because public safety is my highest priority."
Police are also upset. They face four days of furloughs.
"I was promised certain salary and I was promised seniority rights in a contract and that's all being violated," said police officer Matthew Quist.
But the group most upset with the mayor is the arts community. He’s cutting funding for the Arts Board by 75%.
One woman told the hearing, "I hope you will agree there is no better investment than in our children and the arts must be a part of our community’s commitment to them."
Some citizens don't think the overall cuts go deep enough.
"It's time for this Common Council to tighten its belt tighter," said Milwaukee taxpayer Richard Geldon.
If the budget passes, the average homeowner would pay $5 more a month for the city portion of their tax bill.