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Milwaukee Alderman Wants Voters to Weigh-in on Streetcar Funding

The Milwaukee Streetcar

Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan wants voters to decide whether the city can borrow money for the streetcar project.

Donovan announced plans Monday to try to collect enough signatures on petitions to force a binding referendum on the issue. He calls his plan a long shot.

"A long shot, because that is precisely what it is. In order to force a binding referendum, we would need to receive 20,500 signatures, and we would have 30 days to do it,” Donovan says.

Fellow Alderman Bob Bauman says he’s tiring of his colleague’s unending battle against the proposed streetcar line.

“We debated the streetcar 39 months ago. We debated the pros, we debated the cons, we looked at all the issues, we had public hearings, we had large attendance those public hearings, and the council made a decision to move forward," Bauman says.

The Common Council is set to vote on a financing plan for a streetcar in coming weeks. Mayor Tom Barrett is proposing that the city enact three Tax Incremental Financing districts downtown to raise money for the proposed project, including for utility relocation.

The Public Service Commission recently ruled that We Energies does not have to absorb the costs of moving utility lines for a streetcar line. Normally, utilities in Wisconsin cover public works projects.

Wisconsin law allows binding referenda on municipal borrowing plans.

The proposed streetcar line would link attractions and businesses in the downtown area.

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