Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

6:05 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Fischer Lobbies for Local Option Sales Tax, Pension Reform in State of City Address

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
Credit File photo

Mayor Greg Fischer says Louisville’s economy is rebounding from the national recession, but the city still faces a large budget shortfall due to rising pension costs.

Fischer made the comments at his annual State of the City address before the Rotary Club at the Kentucky Center for African-American Heritage. This year's speech was slightly more upbeat than previous ones, with the mayor arguing that Louisville is becoming more entrepreneurial.

The Metro area has added 22,000 jobs and unemployment has dropped by almost four percent in the last two years. But challenges remain, namely Metro Government's hefty budget deficits.

"Last year’s $25 million gap is now down to about $13-14 million out of a $500 million general fund. That’s still a lot of money. But we didn’t get into this problem in two years and we can’t solve it in two years," says Fischer.

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1:00 pm
Mon January 21, 2013

Mayor Greg Fischer to Present Ishmon Burks With Freedom Award

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has chosen former Kentucky Secretary of Justice Ishmon Burks to be the 2013 recipient of the city’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Award.

Burks is a retired army colonel who also served as the first African-American commissioner of the Kentucky State Police. In 2011, he served as interim chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department and as Fischer’s chief of public safety.

Burks says he is humbled by the mayor’s choice, and accepts the Freedom Award with a sense of gratitude.

"I wasn’t quite sure how to take it, but he said ‘I think you’re the man’ and I said mayor if you think so it’s fine with me. And so I was surprised by the whole thing," he says.

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7:24 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Councilman Ken Fleming Questions Mayor Fischer's Local Option Sales Tax Proposal

Councilman Ken Fleming, R-7,
Credit Louisville Metro Council

Louisville Metro Councilman Ken Fleming, R-7, is concerned that Mayor Greg Fischer’s push for a local option sales tax will burden residents and wants to examine cutting other levies first.

For several months the mayor has been lobbying that the city needs the tool to be more competitive and independent.

Fischer argues his administration is not seeking a tax increase, and only wants voters to have the power to decide whether or not to fund special projects through a temporary hike to the state's sales tax.

But Fleming says the mayor has provided few details on what a specific proposal would look like, and is ignoring his campaign promises to spur economic development and job creation.

"Their goal should be economic development, and adding an additional tax on individuals regardless of income is not the right way to go," he says. "What we need to focus on is to try to find those strategies and tactics like getting rid of the occupational tax. That will help development incur job creation. I think we ought to look at that process and not a tax mentality."

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4:07 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

State Lawmaker Proposes Local Option Sales Tax Bill

State Sen. Kathy Stein and Mayor Greg Fischer
Credit Legislative Research Commission/Metro Louisville

State Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, has introduced a bill in the General Assembly that would give cities a local option sales tax.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has been a major proponent of the measure, which allows local voters to decide whether to fund special projects through a temporary sales tax increase. The mayor recently outlined the measure for Metro Council members, saying it gives Louisville more independence.

The bill was introduced Jan. 8 and will be in the State and Local Government Committee.

Stein says many lawmakers oppose any new taxes, but this gives local residents decision-making power.

"It is an option, unfortunately whenever some of us hear the word tax we jump 10 feet up in the air and say 'no, no, no.' But you need to pay attention. It gives the taxpayers the option of doing it. The people who vote have the options," she says.

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10:01 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

City Highlights Progress on Demolitions, Foreclosures of Vacant Properties

Joined by Councilwoman Attica Scott, D-1, and other city officials, Mayor Greg Fischer says Louisville Metro Government is increasing its efforts to tackle vacant and abandoned properties.

The demolition of abandoned properties went up by 30 percent in 2012, and city officials are aiming to foreclose on another 100 homes by June 30. According to different housing reports, Louisville has an estimated 7,000 vacant homes and approximately 1,300 of those are abandoned.

Fischer is spending $125,000 in the current city budget to file those foreclosures, and says the goal is to reduce the number of abandoned properties by 40 percent in the next three years and 67 percent over the next five.

"This is one of those projects that is so big it's easy just to throw up your hands and say it's been going on for decades, and we can't do anything about it. Well, I want to say that if you live next to an vacant or abandoned properties and the weeds are six feet tall, I can tell you that it is not an acceptable answer to say there's nothing we can do about this," he says.

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4:57 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Fischer, Gray Lead Call for Lawmakers To Shore Up Pension System

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
File photo

State and local officials, including Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, came together in Frankfort today to press for action to address rising pension costs. It’s a problem they described as fast approaching unsolvable.

David Draine, a senior researcher with the Pew Center on the States, made his case for adopting some or all of the recommendations made by a state pension task force.

"Without real reform, rising pension costs are going to threaten key public investments and things like education, public safety and infrastructure," Draine said.

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10:30 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Mayor Fischer Moves State of the City Address to West Louisville

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
Credit File photo

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced Monday he will deliver this year’s State of the City address at the Kentucky Center for African-American Heritage in the Russell neighborhood.

The speech is scheduled for January 24 and is traditionally delivered before the Rotary Club in downtown. According to the mayor's office, Fischer wants to move the address to different parts of the city each year and the Rotary accepted the suggestion to move it to west Louisville.

"The annual speech is about the state of the entire city, so it’s only natural that it’s delivered in different areas of our great city," Fischer said in a news release.

The mayor also asked the group to open the event up to the public.

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1:04 pm
Sun January 6, 2013

Noise and Notes: Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Previewing The 2013 General Assembly

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
Credit File photo

Mayor Greg Fischer is halfway through his first term in office, and he is marking the mid-term by highlighting job creation and making Louisville a more compassionate city.

Despite his optimism and business acumen, much of Fischer’s tenure has been gobbled up dealing with "cleaning house" at different departments, auditing city services and steep budget deficits.

Then there is the surge in homicides, which increased by 28 percent in 2012.

The mayor's task force issued a report that says there’s a need for violence prevention director and other serious intervention from Metro Government on a number of fronts. But some Metro Council members have question if that's the best use of city resources and many residents are taking a "wait and see" approach.

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1:54 pm
Mon December 31, 2012

Mayor Greg Fischer: City to Create 'Uniform Policy' Concerning Dismas Workers

Mayor Fischer speaking Monday with WFPL's Phillip M. Bailey.
Credit Gabe Bullard/WFPL

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says the city is working to correct problems with using inmates from Dismas Charities’ halfway houses.

Earlier this month, an internal audit showed there was no written contract for using ex-convicts for volunteer in various city departments. The report said the lack of a signed agreement puts the city at risk, and also found that inmates were not consistently signing in at their work assignments and aren't being properly monitored by supervisors.

Fischer says the partnership with Dismas is a worthy cause that helps rehabilitate inmates, and a corrective action plan is in the works.

"Remember, these folks are in halfway houses and they’re re-integrating into society as well. So that’s part of the issue. But from my perspective what we need is a uniform policy from the city and that’s what you’ll be seeing," he says.

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9:17 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Audit Finds No Agreement Between City, Dismas Charities

An internal audit could not find a signed agreement between Louisville Metro Government and Dismas Charities Inc. regarding the use of inmates from the non-profit’s halfway house at city departments.

The report includes a number of other troubling findings, including that Dismas workers were not consistently signing in or out at their assignments, did have proper monitoring of their activity and that their work logs were incomplete.

(Read the audit report here.)

Dismas is a non-profit group that through the Kentucky Department of Corrections houses inmates at its various halfway houses. While residing at those facilities, inmates are required to participate in community service and many work at Metro agencies as they transition to life outside of prison.

Mayor Greg Fischer's office told WFPL they were surprised to learn the city had no written contract with Dismas, and are working to address the problems and develop a corrective action plan.

"It was new information to us that there wasn’t a signed agreement. Obviously, we’ll get one executed," says mayoral spokesman Chris Poynter. "This audit clearly points out that there are deficiencies and we have developed a corrective action plan to deal with those deficiencies."

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