LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - As the city deals with a $65 million budget crisis, Metro Council members are trying to come up with alternative plans to solve the problem.
Mayor Greg Fischer has proposed a tax increase to avoid major budget cuts.
Councilman David Yates (District 25) said he believes the politics need to be taken out of the decision making.
Yates is leading an ad hoc committee that was created this week to look at what can be cut from the city’s budget.
“We bring in an auditor who can come in and give us their own opinion who is an expert in these things,” Yates said. “And maybe we can be a little bit more efficient and less impact on my constituents and the people living here because either way we are in a position where people are going to be impacted, whether their taxes go up or there services go down."
Yates said over the past several weeks he has been working to find an alternative plan, too. He wants to see if a joint venture with some of the city’s PARC garages and a private sector would help bring in more revenue.
“I think by partnering with the private sector those things can be better addressed and you can generate immediate revenue at a time where we need revenue,” Yates said.
Metro Council members Markus Winkler, Bill Hollander and Pat Mulvihill also came up with an alternative plan and presented it at the democratic caucus Thursday.
“People say cut, cut, cut but when you get into the specifics and you say ‘well I don’t consume any service or government except for I do drive on the roads, and I do want a 911 operator to answer the phone, and I do like my parks mode, and I do like going to the library, and I like my NDF money,’ and on and on and on - that’s where is becomes really challenging,” Winkler said.
The proposal outlines cutting $15 million in several areas, including a 5% salary cut or furloughs for employees earning over $90K annually and eliminating services in suburban areas like street sweeping.
The plan also outlines raising the insurance tax rate on all forms of insurance, other than health, and raising the car rental fee.
The plan shows the insurance tax rate would increase to 9% for the next two fiscal years and then 10% in the following two years. Auto insurance would slowly be phased in beginning in fiscal year 2021 and increase from 5% to 6.5% by 2023. The rental car tax would increase to generate up to $1 million per year.
The plan outlines these increases would generate up to $50 million in revenue over a four year period.
“I would love to have an easy option and say we can maintain all services and have no increase in taxes. But that's not reality,” Winkler said.
The budget committee has until March 14 to submit a plan.
The full Metro Council will vote on a proposal on March 21. Yates is encouraging residents to reach out to council members if you have ideas how Metro Council can fix the budget crisis.
To see the full outline of the proposal presented at the democratic caucus meeting, click or tap here.