Public weighs in on proposed Metro budget cuts, proposed tax increase

Metro Council chambers packed for debate over city's $65 million budget shortfall

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The second of two public comment sessions on the potential cuts to the Louisville Metro budget packed City Council chambers Monday night.

A total of 77 people chose to speak up; the meeting lasted until around 10 p.m.

Looking to make up for the $65 million shortfall over the next four years because of the pension crisis, Mayor Greg Fischer is proposing an insurance tax increase as an alternative to controversial city budget cuts.

Some residents strongly oppose the insurance tax hike.

“My insurance goes up on its own and I’m trying to figure out why that happens,” resident Thomas Zoeller said. “It sure doesn’t need any help from Metro Government. When is enough, enough?”

Tara Purvis, president and CEO of Independent Insurance Agents, said the 300-percent insurance tax increase would affect citizens more than they realize.

“The residents of Louisville are in for a rude awakening,” Purvis said. “When their policies are renewed, they will be hit from every direction from their own policies to the goods and services they buy from local businesses.”

The proposed insurance tax hike replaces plans to cut LMPD, the fire department and a number of community organizations funded with city dollars. Fischer said the final solution could be a combination of cuts and taxes.

“We can’t afford any cuts,” said Nicolai Jilek, FOP Lodge 614. “In fact, we need investment. We’ve been going seven months now without a contract and I’m genuinely worried where this department, where this city and where our public safety will be without an investment in LMPD.”

If the cuts are approved in full, Louisville will have fewer police officers, firefighters, EMTs and corrections officers.

“Whatever means you come up with to solve the pension obligation is something you’ll have to decide but I’m here tonight to tell you to leave us alone,” said Jeff Taylor, Louisville Professional Firefighters Vice President. “We’ve sacrificed. We’ve given while other Metro departments have grown. We can’t take another hit.”

The council will vote on March 21.

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