On Tuesday, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley unveiled new plans for a state-funded forensics lab project. Crowley also addressed how millions of Federal taxpayer dollars would be used for affordable housing projects throughout the county. He also warned of the county’s incoming fiscal challenges at the 2023 State of the County Address. While speaking at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Crowley said there would be “no local dollars to fund local services” by 2027 unless state law changes to allow the county to raise a sales tax.
During his speech, Crowley highlighted the Forensic Science and Protective Medicine Center project at the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center in Wauwatosa. The state and the Medical College of Wisconsin partnered to fund the 92,000-square-foot center, which will house the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office and the Wisconsin DNA databank.
“Together, we will enhance public safety, save lives and operate a more efficient and cost-effective response to emergency situations,” Crowley said.
The County Executive also announced the new Mental Health Emergency Center, located at 1525 N. 12th St., will start full operations in 2023. Constructed by C.G. Schmidt and JCP Construction, the start-up cost for the new center was $18 million, half of which is covered by the county.
Mental health and substance use issues lead to negative outcomes for the county as a whole, not just for the people who experience them directly, Crowley said. “That’s why comprehensive, community-based approaches are needed to address these issues facing residents.”
West Allis and Wauwatosa partnered with the county to use $15 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for affordable housing development, Crowley said. The municipalities worked with Jewish Family Services, MSP Real Estate, Scott Crawford Inc., J. Jeffers & Co. and Cornerstone Village to use the money to buy foreclosed homes and sell them to residents at market value.
Shorewood used $2.5 million raised through a tax increment district to build its own affordable housing, Crowley said. The county will also invest $2.5 million in federal funds to ACTS Housing home acquisition fund so it can buy back houses for Milwaukee residents.
Toward the end of his speech, Crowley warned of the impending fiscal challenges and what it means for residents across the county. He also pointed to a partnership with Madison lawmakers to bring a 1% sales tax for Milwaukee County.
“Currently, the cost of services are outpacing our current revenues – and we are limited by state law in how much revenue we can raise locally,” Crowley said at the address. “By 2027 we are projected to have no local dollars to fund local services.”
Milwaukee’s political and business leaders met in November to discuss the sales tax and its effect on public safety. Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said it would be harder to put cranes in the sky without public safety funding from Madison or elsewhere.