Public Comment Portion of Budget Hearings Begins Wednesday

The Louisville Metro Council will give the public a chance to comment on Mayor Greg Fischer’s proposed budget Wednesday.

The meeting will likely be dominated by representatives from various external agencies and arts groups that receive taxpayer funding from the city.

Last year, Fischer set aside $4.9 million for external agency grants and told those organizations to come up with a “plan B” to city funding, but the council added a half a million dollars to the proposal. The mayor has kept the funding flat in the upcoming fiscal year and the council is expected to add less money this year.

Budget Committee Chairwoman Marianne Butler, D-15, says it is very important that lawmakers hear from the groups.

“I’m really not sure what to expect with this year’s budget. We have heard from a few of the external agencies who of course need more money and could more than likely use more money. We just have to look at the balanced budget and see where and if we can find it,” she says.

There was considerable concern about social services among council members last week after testimony from University Hospital President Jim Taylor. He told city lawmakers that many indigent care services would have to be reduced due to Fischer cutting the fund by $2.7 million.

For years, the city put in $9.7 million toward key services such as clinics, non-emergency surgeries and other emergencies. In return, the hospital sent the city a $2.7 million rebate as a compromise, however, state lawmakers approved legislation earlier this year lowering Kentucky's contribution to the fund by the amount of any rebate.

Butler says council members are looking for ways to restore funding and citizens have also voiced concern about the city’s lower contribution.

“And we’ve heard them and we’re certainly looking at the budget to see where we can find additional funds,” she says. “You can see how many people they are able to help and then you’re also able to look at their application. There’s a rhyme and reason to it, we just have to find it.”

Those who wish to address the budget committee can sign-up at City Hall beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday. The meeting begins at 6 p.m., but the council is allowing only one speaker from each non-profit group to speak and only organizations that applied for funding will be allowed to address the council.

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