Politics
3:57 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

Fischer Unveils Budget Plan With No Layoffs or Drastic Cuts

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has presented the Metro Council with his budget plan for the upcoming 2012-13 fiscal year.

The spending plan does not raise taxes and balances the budget without Metro employee layoffs or furloughs, and gives non-union city workers a 2 percent raise. Fischer was able to leverage private sectors dollars to help fund a $1 million summer jobs program for at-risk youth and $800,000 to purchase land connecting the Louisville Loop to Jefferson Memorial Forest.

Two-thirds of taxpayer dollars go to public safety departments and Fischer touts three police recruit classes in the budget. But one of those closes was held over from the current fiscal year.

The mayor also makes investments in key areas, such as a bond for the Southwest Regional Library, which the city will pay $9.5 million and the Library Foundation will raise $3.5 million.

"The library is the only project I'm borrowing money to pay for. The city should generally only issue bonds for strategic long-term investments and the library meets that standard," Fischer said in a news release.

Metro Government faced a $20 million shortfall in the coming fiscal year, but filled that hole with $13.5 million in projected revenue estimates and selling two downtown parking lots to the Parking Authority of River City for $10.7 million.

Chief Financial Officer Steve Rowland says PARC is also paying the city $3.9 million for two garages which it purchased from the former county government at merger, but for which the payment was never received. Asked how those payments were missed being made over the past eight years and if the city would collect interest on the sale, Rowland said that was being discussed with PARC officials.

Among other investments in Fischer's plan include $500,000 to attract retail business along south Fourth Street, $500,000 to acquire land in west Louisville for economic development and another $500,000 to jump start a fund to help salvage historic properties.

There’s also $125,000 to help foreclose on 100 of the most marketable abandoned properties, which a criteria and list will be developed for over the coming months. The General Assembly previously passed legislation putting the city higher on the list to claim liens on vacant homes.

The mayor shuffled funding for external agencies, art groups and social service agencies, with a total of $4.9 million. But a comparison of the previous fiscal shows arts and cultural organizations received less overall funding than last year.

Critics suggest the mayor's budget is a band-aid that continues much of the spending policies of the previous administration. Council Republicans have said it lacks much of the ambitious changes Fischer promised during his campaign.

Council members will hold budget hearings over the next month.

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