LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Metro Council will vote on the city’s next fiscal year budget on Thursday.
In April, Mayor Greg Fischer presented a budget, uncertain of what the city’s financial situation would look like with people sheltering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two months later, the Metro Budget Committee has made significant changes they believe will be beneficial to the city. Monday, the committee passed a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, focused mainly on disadvantaged neighborhoods and police reform.
“You know, we’ve heard from constituents and I know others have, that you’re not doing enough, and we understand that,” District 9 Councilman Bill Hollander said. “Our funds are limited and so I think we are making good investments with the funds we currently have available.”
Hollander said a big focus of the amended budget is housing because there are 5,000 vacant and abandoned properties in West Louisville.
“It’s an issue we need to deal with,” he said. “It’s an expensive proposition. We’re making a start with this budget. I don’t think it needs to be the last step. I think lots of other things need to be done.”
The proposed budget adds more than $9 million to support home repair, address vacant and abandoned properties, and create a pathway for Black ownership:
+ $5 million more for the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund and its partners
+ $2.5 million for programs that support home repair, address vacant and abandoned properties and increase homeownership
+ $1 million for a new homeowner and rental repair loan fund to support the improvement of residences
+ $413,400 to clean up neighborhoods and alleys which are often used for illegal dumping
+ $170,000 to hire two Code Enforcement Officers with Develop Louisville to help revitalize disadvantaged neighborhoods
In addition, $3.5 million would go to build and support a community grocery in a food desert
“Let’s address this,” Hollander said. “Let’s help build and help develop and operate a grocery store in West Louisville to address at least one of the areas where we have food deserts.”
Other changes to the budget include:
+ Increasing the paving budget by $14.3 million
+Providing $700,000 for a required dry-dock inspection and repair and $500,000 in operating funds for the Belle of Louisville.
+Providing $500,000 to outfit the Middletown Library, at a location provided at no cost to Louisville Metro by the City of Middletown.
The proposed budget would not cut funds from LMPD’s $190 million dollar budget. Instead, the committee suggested some money be used to support police reform.
The proposal provides $763,500 to fund a civilian oversight system for LMPD. It also redirects $1.2 million dollars in state funds to put social workers with police officers on certain cases.
Hollander said the money for law enforcement reform would not come from money currently used to pay officer's salaries.
“[People] are using a variety of terms and people have different meanings when they say ‘defund the police,’” Hollander said. “Nobody is interested in not having the police department or defunding the police department. That’s not in the cards in Louisville, or I think any anywhere. There are people who are talking about opportunities to re-imagine policing. If you will think about what we’re talking about, for example, in terms of having social workers who would assist the police for calls where the person is suffering from mental illness drug addiction or homelessness on the streets.”
The $1.2 million also covers training, including the use of force, de-escalation and implicit bias, and recruiting for a police force that “more closely looks like and lives in the community.” The budget committee also wants the mayor and LMPD to spend $1.6 million in federal funds for the same purposes.
The full Metro Council will vote on the budget Thursday at 6 p.m.