Metro Council to vote on controversial city budget Tuesday night

Metro Council ready to vote on controversial city budget

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - On Tuesday the full Metro Council will vote on the budget for the new fiscal year after months of making tough decisions around the city’s $32 million shortfall.

"It's been probably the hardest budget in the history of metro government,” Metro Council President David James said.

Last week, the budget committee passed a budget amendment that the full council will vote on Tuesday night.

The committee approved a budget last Thursday that looks different than what Mayor Greg Fischer proposed in April, but councilmembers are confident it's the best option with what they have.

“We had to cut so many dollars out of the budget due to the lack of revenue. So it did cause people to really examine the budget in a way they maybe had not examined it so deep before,” James said. “Not only is it ‘x’ dollars that we’re cutting out of each particular item, but what is the effect of that cut? It’s not simply dollars only. There’s a cost to cuts.”

Metro Council voted to not increase taxes in March.

James said over the last several months, every single councilmember has been focused on helping solve this issue.

“You can’t walk up and down the hallway or walk into an office or go to lunch with someone without having a full discussion about the budget and what things are important, what things are not important. What’s the higher priority, what’s the lower priority,” James said.

In the new amended budget, the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods would face a $1 million cut. It would also surrender Youth Detention Services to the state, which allows the city to save more than $1.2 million.

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

Pools are still closed this summer, but the amended budget would fund two to reopen next summer.

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 by December 31, 2019.

Mayor Greg Fischer’s proposed budget in April suggested closing the Grade Lane Louisville Fire Station. James said Fire Chief Gregory Frederick hopes to avoid that.

“He’s working to find a workaround so that it won’t have to close,” James told WAVE 3 News. “So we’re still moving through that process right now as we speak."

The mayor also proposed closing four of the 10 golf courses, but James said the city is looking for private developers who may be able to help run the courses. They are waiting to see if that is an option after this summer.

“This budget may not be the budget that’s going to make the citizen happy. Because I would say it hasn’t made all the council people happy either,” James said. “Because it involves cuts and removing services and people are being let go. It’s been a very hard budget to work on. But considering everything involved, I would simply say the council came together as a body and tried to take what the mayor recommended and then tried to find the best ways that we think we can do this while we’re moving money, but being able to spread it out as much as we can.”

Metro Council will vote on the budget Tuesday at 6 p.m.

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