Mayor breaks down new Louisville Metro budget

Mayor breaks down new Louisville Metro budget

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Fiscal Year 2018 budget for Louisville Metro contains a heavy focus on public safety.

But what started with applause over the mayor's budget Thursday, ended with disagreement.

"It's like throwing a penny at an elephant" Councilman Brent Ackerson told us.

At issue: the number of officers the city should hire and the plan to halt the violence.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer plans to add 16 new officers, that's an addition to another 28 that were already approved last September for a total of 44.

Not everyone liked those numbers.

"Those are 28 officers that we'd hired. And just because we're continuing to fund them that's not anything additional," Ackerson said. "At the end of the day, we are talking about 16 more officers in the city of Louisville."

The Mayor told us it's not about the numbers, rather more so about how you attack the problem.

Councilwoman Angela Leet told me she has many questions about the impact of the additional officers.

"Are we talking about 16 officers in one division? Are we talking about two officers for each division? I'm not sure," she said.

Leet has also been critical of LMPD Chief Steve Conrad and even asked for his removal. But the Mayor said, the Chief is working hard.

"Are you satisfied with the job the Chief is doing?" we asked the Mayor.  "These kind of simplistic questions, that you know changing one person is all of a sudden going to change everything in the city is just so far off base," he responded. "I mean, that's ridiculous, I support the Chief."

Fischer said he was proud to announce that there was $23 million in new revenue. The majority of that new revenue, 83 percent to be exact, will be dedicated to the Louisville Metro Police Department and Public Safety, totaling $19 million.

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Of the $19 million pie, $1.8 million will be specifically allocated to moving the LMPDs current downtown headquarters. Fischer did not clarify the new location but said it would be in the "downtown vicinity."

With the funds, the city will result in a net gain of 55 new police department positions - 44 officers and 11 other criminal justice positions. The Commonwealth will also hire an additional prosecutor for the Commonwealth Attorney's office as well as a new arraignment court prosecutor in the County Attorney's office to speed up the arraignment of non-violent criminals.

As for more public safety infrastructure, $4 million will be spent on police cars, ambulances, fire trucks and other equipment, while some funds will also go into the relocation pf the MetroSafe backup 911 center. In addition, $500,000 will also be designated for improvements at the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections.

Fischer also addressed the heroin and opioid epidemic that is happening not only nationally but also in Louisville. The budget includes $200,000 going to additional staff for Office of Addiction Services.

"There is obviously a real crisis going on in the country right now with heroin and opioids, so we're putting more money into addiction services in the area, something that's, unfortunately, is affecting everyone in the city," Fischer said. "It kind of ripples throughout the budget, especially if you look at public safety."

Fischer also announced that $2.5 million will be going to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund along with $12 million to the Louisville CARES revolving loan fund. Fischer clarified this is the highest level of city funding dedicated to affordable housing since the merger.

The Beecher Terrace and Russell Choice Neighborhoods project is also progressing. In 2016, Fischer announced a $15 million, five-year commitment to the Russell neighborhood. In an effort to move that initiative forward, a $2.5 million will be set aside for the Vision Russell Transformation plan.

There is also a $9.8 million set aside for the KFC Yum! Center development over the next ten years, and another $25 million for renovating the streets and paving around the city.

With Google Fiber announcing it is coming to Louisville, $5.4 million will be going to Kentucky Wired, a company that will lay more fiber optic cables in Louisville so residents can access faster internet with broader coverage.

Another $6.5 million is set aside for Metro Council to decide where it should go, it is currently called the non-designated fund.

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