Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn
Milwaukee Fire Chief Aaron Lipski organized 28 community meetings over seven days, from October 5 to October 12, to talk to residents about the budget cuts his department faces. Mayor Johnson’s proposed city budget for 2023 will require the Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD) to close two more stations next year. In the press release announcing the community meetings, Lipski said these cuts are just the latest in a series that stretches back at least 15 years. These have “placed our firefighters and paramedics, and the civilians we serve at increased risk,” Lipski said in the release.
Mayor Johnson responded to Lipski’s concerns by pointing out that Milwaukee as a whole has a similar story. The amount of money the city receives from the state has steadily declined over the last two decades. After adjusting for inflation, the city of Milwaukee received over $400 million from the state in 2003, then $343 million in 2013. The proposed 2023 budget anticipates receiving only $230 million from the state next year.
Fire Chief Lipski said one of his goals for the community meetings was to encourage conversations with the state government in Madison. He applauded efforts from County Executive Crowley, County Board Chair Nicholson, Mayor Johnson, and Council President Pérez to build bridges with Madison. Lipski hopes that his efforts, along with those of other city officials, will create a “ more equitable relationship, a more sustainable relationship, and a more predictable relationship” with the state government, which will allow Milwaukee and Wisconsin to come to a permanent solution for their budget problems.