Mayor Fischer says budget committee’s plan is far from perfect

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer critical of Metro Council tax plan

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The ordinance passed by Metro Council’s budget committee looks a lot different than what the mayor originally proposed. On Thursday the full council will vote on the plan to possible be enacted even if it’s not what the mayor wants.

The council is facing a deadline of March 22. By that day they must notify the insurance department if they are going to get any revenue for tax insurance premiums. The mayor could veto the ordinance, but it is a 100-day process, meaning the mayor may just have to accept what he gets.

“A lot of these cuts behind them is just a strategy of hope,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “Hope is not a good strategy to run any operation. Particularly one that serves and provides basic city services to our citizens.”

>> RELATED STORY: Plan combining tax increase, budget cuts moves to full Metro Council

Fischer said the proposed ordinance includes tax increases that aren’t enough and cuts that are too much.

The committee passed a 9.5% insurance tax increase rather than a 12.5% originally proposed by the council. The Mayor proposed an increasing tax structure that would reach 15% in the year 2023.

The plan also includes budget cuts of $32 million from 2021 to 2023. Immediately the city could face a $15 million budget cut effecting the fiscal year that begins in July.

The specific services cut would be decided in April during the budget process. The Mayor said with this plan he foresees cuts to public safety. That includes the closure of two fire stations and one less ambulance on the street.

The mayor prefers a plan that would increase taxes to the point where the city would only need to make cuts of 15 million total over the next four years.

“I face no joy in saying we need to raise taxes, but I face less joy in cutting basic city services that citizens deserve," Fischer said.

Since the merger in 2003, Metro Government has not raised taxes. The last increase in the county was in 1990. The committee was not completely sold on the plan pass on Thursday. The vote was 7 to 4.

Some want more time to review every detail of the budget, but a deadline in looming. A final vote will be held on March 21.

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