We gave the Sheriff the resources he needs to protect our parks and buses and to address violent crime in the City of Milwaukee and throughout the county. We built this off of the success of enhanced patrols on the lakefront this summer.
We also put more into programs to keep our young kids out of a cycle of crime, increase supervision of offenders in the community and improve one of the best paramedic programs in the country. Public Safety is a priority in my budget.
If taxes continued to grow at the same rate as before I got here, we'd be paying $43.9 million more in taxes this year. Instead, for the 6th budget in a row, there is a zero-percent increase in the tax levy.
This budget was built to protect the retired couple living on Social Security, the new homeowners with a baby and the entrepreneur just branching out to start a new business. These people need to be able to afford to live, work, grow and retire in Milwaukee County.
Our budget includes a significant investment in our roads, highways, parkways and airport. We restore the transit routes that were to be eliminated and keep ParaTransit service. We push new construction and housing opportunities. We continue our health care for low-income individuals, increase long-term care for our seniors, expand FamilyCare to people with disabilities and improve care for those suffering from mental illness.
We continue our investments in the zoo, our cultural institutions and the parks. Besides adding more than $14 million in new capital improvements to the parks, we actually INCREASE the number of hours of work in the parks. My plan to replace year-round, full-time employees with seasonal employees actually increases the total work hours in the parks by nearly 20,000. Plus, it makes a great deal of sense.
Do you pay the kid who mows your lawn to work in December? No. Our plan just makes common sense as we allow the parks system to hire and use staff at the times when they need it most. Our plan will actually IMPROVE care for the parks in 2008.
Still, there will certainly be plenty of opportunities for the defenders of the status quo to try and attack our budget and give out misinformation about the details. When they do, we will be certain to act quickly to get you the facts.