Change the way local governments are funded

    The budgets of both Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker highlight the need for better financing options for local governments in Wisconsin.

    Realtors are never happy with increases in property taxes, because they directly impact a buyer’s ability to purchase a home. The mayor and county executive have made some hard decisions in prioritizing their respective programs and services that are funded for 2010 in the face of cuts in state shared revenue.

    With regard to Mayor Barrett’s budget, we hope the common council can improve up on the mayor’s proposal and save taxpayers additional funds while preserving core services by continuing to look for efficiencies in their operations, including privatizing some services where financially justifiable.

    At the county, County Executive Walker has delivered another austere budget that addresses the chronic problem of pension contributions that is only exacerbated by the economy and increases in demand for services. The Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors (GMAR) urges the county board to find better ways to fund county services without increasing the overall levy more than the county executive’s proposal.

    The state’s decision to cut shared revenue highlights the need for Wisconsin to re-examine how local government is funded. The GMAR supports the Wisconsin Way’s initiative to provide a comprehensive evaluation of current government financing and offer sound alternatives that will help taxpayers, and homeowners.

    Mike Ruzicka is president of the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors (GMAR), a 4,000-member professional organization dedicated to providing information, services and products to its members to help them help their clients in buying and selling real estate.

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