Committee unanimously passes amended budget, decision moves to Metro Council

Metro Council budget committee unanimously passes budget

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - After months of discussions over cuts, including input on the impact from community leaders, the Metro Council Budget Committee unanimously passed a budget amendment Thursday night.

The latest budget is in response to cuts Mayor Greg Fischer outlined in April, though it looks quite different.

Fischer’s proposed cuts to combat the city’s $32 million budget deficit included eliminating 312 metro government positions and reducing LMPD’s budget by $5.5 million. They also cancelled an LMPD recruitment class scheduled for June, closed four public pools and two libraries and cut hours at the other library locations.

Fischer said his proposed cuts were made by analyzing each department’s expenses.

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“This is a tough budget,” Councilman Bill Hollander said. “People are going to lose their jobs. I think the public will see the impact of the cuts. But we knew what we were facing and we knew the money we had to work with and I think we've used it in the best way we can.”

The amendments to the budget would cut roughly $1 million from the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, which runs the “interrupters” program.

It would also surrender Youth Detention Services to the state, which allows the metro to save more than $1.2 million.

“We are the only county in the state and the state has facilities,” Kramer said. “Our hope would be that they would take a look at Jefferson County - it’s the largest county in the state - and we hope they would offer those services here."

Budget amendments surrender Youth Detention Services to the state, which allowed them to save more than $1.2 million.
Budget amendments surrender Youth Detention Services to the state, which allowed them to save more than $1.2 million. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

Metro Louisville would fund Youth Detention Services through December 31, 2019, while an agreement is established for the state to take over operations.

The amended budget allocates $1.4 million to public libraries, allowing the facilities to keep their current hours. It would also fund a library in Middletown, as long as the City of Middletown or a third party provides a location for the library. This must be done no later than December 31, 2019.

The amended budget allocates $1.4 million to the public library budget.
The amended budget allocates $1.4 million to the public library budget. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

While the budget does not reopen any pools for this summer, it does put $600,000 towards reopening Algonquin and Sun Valley Pools in summer 2020 and capital funds to repair the pools. The capital budget provides $800,000 for “conversion” for the pools at Norton Camp Taylor and Fairdale.

Other budget allocations include the following:

  • Dare to Care food bank would receive $200,000 to address food insecurity
  • Weekly recycling and seasonal yard waste collection in the Urban Services District
  • Funds for the Jefferson County Fire Special Operations and Hazmat Response Team

Councilman Hollander believes the amended budget is good for the community, though the city isn’t completely in the clear.

“We are going to continue to have increasing pension obligations," Hollander explained. "And I think it’s responsible to say we will be looking at the budget next year, too. Some of the things people might say we were able to save this year might be on the chopping block next year. But we’ll do the best we can next year and the year after that and the year after that.”

In a statement, Mayor Greg Fischer said:

“We appreciate the last two months of leadership and work by Chairman Bill Hollander and the Council budget committee and recognize that this has been a very difficult process because of the pension driven budget shortfall. We will review the amendments approved [Thursday] and look forward to next week’s vote on a balanced budget that will have the least negative impact on our residents and business.”
Mayor Greg Fischer on amended budget

The full Metro Council will vote on the budget Tuesday, just in time for the city’s July 1 fiscal year.

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