Plan combining tax increase, budget cuts moves to full Metro Council

Louisville politicians push budget solution combining tax increase, budget cuts

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville Metro Council is one step closer to figuring out how to close the city’s $65 million deficit caused by rising pension costs.

The budget committee passed an ordinance Thursday that raises insurance taxes -- but not as much as the mayor wanted. That means there would be some budget cuts along with the tax increase.

The full council still has to vote on the measure, and some members aren’t sold that this will help.

It’s a 9.5 percent insurance tax increase, rather than the 12.5 percent originally proposed. It also includes $15 million in cuts to be decided in April during the budget process. Passing by a vote of 7 to 4, some are still not satisfied.

“What that number is for me is not 9.5 percent, what those cuts look like is not what you’ve been hearing,” Councilwoman Paula McCraney (D-District 7) said. “There are so many other cuts beneath the surface that I wish that we had the time to look at before we vote on a tax increase. One of my constituents asked me to please go at it like you were eating an elephant and that is one bite at a time.”

Councilman Brent Ackerson (D-District 26) said deficits in the past have been tackled year by year. He wants council to vote down the ordinance so that it can go through the normal budget process.

“So we can make sure that we turn over every stone and find out if we get by this first year and $35 million without a tax,” Ackerson said. “It will tell us in the future, if we can’t get by with cuts, then it will give us the more definitive tax rate that we need.”

Councilman Bill Hollander (D-District 9) helped pen the amendment and said handling a long-term problem year by year is irresponsible.

“I think the public wants us to make decisions and not come back every year and say, ‘What are we going to cut this year?’” Hollander said. “You need some certainty as a community in what services are going to be available.”

Hollander added this is one of the only ways Louisville can raise revenue, because of caps and limits Frankfort has put on the city. He said this amended ordinance includes a provision to put the pressure on state lawmakers to allow more ways to raise revenue.

Mayor Greg Fischer is also not completely satisfied, saying the council has to watch what cuts they make and limit the impact this has on people.

The full council will vote on the measure Thursday, March 21.

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