State Of The City: Mayor Fischer calls it strong, citing job growth, economic expansion

Mayor Greg Fischer's 2020 State of the City address

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Greg Fischer on Thursday delivered his 10th State Of The City address as Louisville's mayor.

He called it strong, and said Louisville is seeing “a renaissance that’s reinvigorated our city and remade our skyline.” Fischer mentioned several developments completed in 2019, including the restored Colonial Gardens near Iroquois Park, Logan Street Market, Old Forester’s Paristown Hall, the new Northeast Regional Library and the new Republic Bank Foundation YMCA.

Fischer also emphasized the city’s 83,000 new jobs since 2014, plus 3,000 new businesses and $15 billion in capital investment, including nearly $1 billion in west Louisville.

“And last month, we launched the region’s first bus rapid transit line,” Fischer said. “It’s part of the New Dixie Highway, with a key stop ... at 18th and Broadway.”

Fischer touched on current projects that are part of a continued growth movement around town, particularly the new Lynn Family soccer stadium, which will host two pro soccer teams –- the two-time league champion Louisville City FC, and the new National Women’s Soccer League team.

“Our city’s accomplishments have been repeatedly validated by third parties, with awards, special recognitions, and tens of millions of dollars in competitive grants from local and national foundations ... and federal agencies like HUD, Health and Human Services and more,” Fischer said.

The mayor acknowledged that the city’s financial picture isn’t perfect. The increasing pension debt forced “painful cuts” in last year’s budget, including eliminating nearly 300 jobs, making reductions in public safety, moving Youth Detention Services to state control, as well as closing pools, libraries and a Neighborhood Place.

“Absent new ongoing funding, our long-term budget challenges will continue,” Fischer said, vowing to continue working with Metro Council and state lawmakers to invest in the community and to build the “the city our people want and deserve.”

“There are multiple options,” Fischer continued. "Like a restaurant tax, which is allowed in some Kentucky cities but not ours. This could fully fund our remaining pension obligation. One option locally is to take up the insurance premium tax. Or the state could implement a road tax, which would help address roadways and bridges in dire need of repair and upgrading.

“Or maybe Frankfort agrees to grant Kentucky cities – and Kentuckians — a greater ability to raise our own revenue, fund our own capital projects. The priority is achieving results.”

It’s just as important, Fischer said, “that we invest in programs that engage and connect young people to opportunities, especially those who are not in school or working.”

The mayor said he would be working with the Metro Council to reallocate some of the money previously dedicated to Youth Detention Services to invest more in youth development.

“Let’s interrupt the cycle of violence before it begins,” he said.

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