GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) — Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt unveiled his proposed budget in front of the city council Tuesday night.
It’s the first time in five years the budget has included a tax increase.
The mayor is hoping to raise property taxes by 1.9 percent.
He said people living in an average house in the city would pay just over $20 more in property taxes and said that funding would save city services.
The mayor said funding for city services is bare bones.
“We are at a point in this budget where either we pay the proper wages and the benefits or we need to cut services,” said Mayor Schmitt.
He said services like parks, public works, community policing, and a full-time fire department bring people to the city.
“There’s some things that I think we do here in Green Bay that cost a little bit more money but when you look at services that’s one of the reasons people and businesses are in Green Bay,” Schmitt said.
The mayor said the cuts would be to personnel and police and fire would be the last to get cut.
He said part of the reason for a tax increase is that the city is not paying some employees enough.
“We weren’t competitive. We were losing people to some other part-time wage jobs so we did increase their wage which will be closer to $9 and we’re comfortable with that,” said Schmitt.
“If you don’t pay competitive wages, that your staff will look elsewhere,” said David Nennig, a Green Bay alderman.
The mayor said he worked on the budget for the past six months.
At time of publishing, city council members did not have much time to look at the proposal since receiving it Tuesday night, but council members Action 2 News spoke to Wednesday said they do not have objections.
“As the city grows, we do have to take care of the services we provide. We can’t keep cutting, cutting, cutting and expect to provide the same services. It just doesn’t work that way,” said Nennig.
“I think we’re open to at least listening to that,” said alderman Guy Zima. “We’ve had zero budgets for five years in a row where there’s no tax increase at all, and you know, life just doesn’t go backwards.”
Later this month there will be an open house where people can talk to department heads.
The budget will go before the full city council next month.
If approved, it will take effect in January.