LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville plans to spend a big chunk of its $6.2 million dollar city budget surplus on battling gun violence.
The city recently broke its single-year record for criminal homicides, topping the 111 committed 45 years ago in 1971.
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The city's plan to reduce violent crime includes hiring 28 additional police officers; using $2.1 million for targeted violence reduction strategies, such as a new Street Intervention Specialists team; and expanding its SummerWorks program and graffiti removal efforts.
"We are in the midst of a public health and safety crisis that requires our focused attention and resources," Mayor Greg Fischer said. "This spending plan targets our resources at both long- and short-term approaches."
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Here is a summary of the mayor's proposed spending of the $6.2 million surplus:
- Violence intervention strategies - $2.1 million
- Hiring of 28 LMPD officers - $700,000
- Moving some LMPD staff - $50,000
- Additional expenses for Metro Corrections, due to high inmate count - $665,000
- Expanding SummerWorks to hire 40 teens for the summer - $100,000
- Hiring of a Chief Equity Officer and staff - $115,000
- Additional personnel for graffiti removal/Clean and Bright team - $110,000
- Recruitment and retention efforts for Metro Parks front-line employees who clean parks and mow grass - $350,000
- Purchasing an additional 3,000 garbage carts for citizens - $160,000
- Increasing Rainy Day Fund by $1.8 million
The 28 new police officers are in addition to the 122 the city is hiring in the current fiscal year, bringing the total number of recruits to the city's maximum annual capacity of 150. That's the most police officers hired by the city in a single year since the city-county merger.
The Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods will coordinate the Street Intervention Specialists team, which will consist of contractors hired to work directly on the street to disrupt violence. The office's other efforts range from prevention programs like "Peace Ed," intervention programs like "Pivot to Peace," and re-entry efforts like Right Turn and ReImage.
The plan also proposes to relocate some LMPD staff to the Metro Employee Wellness Center Building at 400 South First Street. The administration had initially considered moving all of LMPD headquarters but is postponing that move until the next budget cycle. Instead, only those affected by significant plumbing and other issues are being moved now.
"We've made the decision to use the surplus to address the most pressing needs, and violence intervention is the most pressing need," the mayor said.
The surplus came about through improved revenues, professional expense management, and an improved economy, Fischer said.
Nothing is official just yet. The Metro Council must sign off on the mayor's plan.