The Metro Council will honor retired University of Louisville economist Paul Coomes at its meeting this Thursday.
Last week, the council’s Budget Committee passed a resolution to thank Coomes for his service over the years, which included several economic development studies and advising the council on economic forecasts to help draft city budgets since merger.
Councilman Kelly Downard, R-16, is vice chairman of the budget committee. He says Coomes was an invaluable consultant who helped the city face the national recession.
“He was a reliable source. One that we trusted. And in government trust is very, very important. We trusted his input and he never let us down. He was very, very good,” he says.
The non-binding measure credits the economist with making significant contributions before city and county governments merged, saying Coomes was responsible for coordinating an analysis of the reorganization that led to Metro Government itself.
It also honors Coomes for his research contracts for several organizations and businesses in the city, including Churchill Downs, UPS and Jewish Hospital.
“He did not sugarcoat anything for us,” says Buget Committee Chairwoman Marianne Butler, D-15. “He let us know when it was going to be a tough year and he let us know when things were turning around but it would be a year or two before we realized that. He was very on the mark and didn’t sugarcoat anything.”
Coomes joined U of L in 1985 and retired last month, but according to Business First he will continue work with the university’s urban studies department alongside research partner Barry Kornstein.
Downard says city lawmakers may ask Coomes to help them again when next year’s budget hearings begin.
“We haven’t done a budget without him yet. The next year’s one will be—that’s going to be a toughy. I’m not sure how we’re going to handle that,” he says. “We may ask him to comeback. I just don’t know. I know that we relied on him heavily and he never let us down.”
Recently, Coomes outlined his support for Mayor Greg Fischer’s idea that Louisville should have a local sales tax option to fund a specific public project.