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Study shows locals may need to choose between road repairs and police

Wisconsin's local governments may someday have to choose between police and fixing potholes, unless the state changes the way those governments are funded.

That's according to new study by Milwaukee's Public Policy Forum, which says cities are running out of ways to pay their bills and it blames state restrictions.

The study looked at Milwaukee's finances, but Policy Forum president Rob Henken said every local government in Wisconsin faces the same problems.

State aid that has not risen in 12 years, higher property taxes than the national average, and upsetting taxpayers with new fees while raising others up to 100 percent in recent years.

The report said Milwaukee is managed well, but the state restricts what cities can do to increase revenues. And if something doesn't change soon, Milwaukee comptroller Wally Morics says communities will drop services people really want - and quality of life things like parks and libraries will be the first to go.

Morics says it's a big challenge for local leaders, because people oppose both tax hikes and service cuts.

But he says something must break eventually, and he called Milwaukee "the Titanic headed for the iceberg."