Louisville Metro Council

Politics
5:31 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

Fischer to Outline Local Sales Tax Option Plan for Council Members

Credit File photo

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer will discuss his strategy to create a local sales tax option with members of the Metro Council this week.

Fischer has been lobbying state lawmakers and other leaders across Kentucky since July, saying the city needs the tool in the face of budget shortfalls.

The option would give Louisville voters the ability to vote for or against a sales tax increase to fund specific projects. Before that could happen, however, the measure needs a two-thirds vote in both chambers of the state legislature and a statewide referendum to amend the state constitution.

Democratic Caucus spokesman Tony Hyatt says his members are eager to hear the mayor outline his plan, adding they have serious questions about the sales tax options before showing support.

"What are you going to do with the money if it is passed and how long would such a local option tax be in place? Are you going to use it for infrastructure projects or to supplement the budget? The caucus would like to hear directly from the mayor what he plans to do with the money if the effort is successful," he says.

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Politics
8:00 am
Mon December 3, 2012

King Disagrees With Fischer's Higher Tax Suggestion for Housing Trust Fund

Metro Councilman Jim King
Credit Louisville Metro Council

Louisville Metro Council President Jim King says it isn’t practical to raise taxes for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, despite Mayor Greg Fischer’s suggestion.

The council set up the trust fund to give grants and loans for affordable housing activities, such as new construction, home rehabilitation, payment assistance and emergency repair. But the fund has struggled to find an adequate revenue stream since it was first formed in 2008.

After months of saying that residents had no appetite for higher taxes, Fischer told The Courier-Journal his administration supports a one percent increase of the insurance premium tax to pay for the trust fund if council members agreed.

But King says raising taxes of any kind would be a burdensome to residents and small businesses in a tough economy.

"I would have to say that I didn’t expect (Fischer's) comment because I wasn’t aware he was interested in adding anything to that tax. But I don’t think that the council as a whole is in a position to support that right now," he says.

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Politics
1:49 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Jim King Likely to be Louisville Metro Council President for Third Consecutive Year

Louisville Metro Councilman Jim King
Credit Louisville Metro Council

Louisville Metro Councilman Jim King, D-10, is favored to serve an unprecedented third consecutive one-year term as council president.

Since city and county governments merged, council presidents have traditionally held the seat for a year before stepping down. King informed his Democratic colleagues—who hold a 17-to-9 majority—and Republicans of his intentions this month, and no other candidates have emerged.

"I think I have earned the trust and I want to keep the trust of both sides of the body—Republicans and Democrats. And I do try to work in a manner that is fair to both sides, and moving forward the legislative agenda of the council," King said.

"I think that the council members see me as someone who can lead them, but I can’t lead them without their support and I certainly value that."

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Politics
8:00 am
Sat November 3, 2012

What to Expect in Louisville Metro Council Races

The even-numbered districts in the Louisville Metro Council are up for election this year with only a half of them contested races.

Since 2010, Democrats have held a commanding 17-to-9 majority and they are expected to keep their majority even if they lose a seat or two.

District 8

Republican Kirt Jacobs is challenging Democratic incumbent Tom Owen, who is seeking his third term in office.

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Politics
12:15 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

Outgoing GOP Metro Councilman Jon Ackerson Endorses Democrat

Louisville Metro Councilman Jon Ackerson is endorsing Democrat Teague Ridge over fellow Republican Marilyn Parker in the 18th District race.

Parker was backed by the Tea Party in the GOP primary and narrowly defeated Ackerson by 37 votes. The majority of council Republicans also supported Parker over Ackerson, citing that he sided with Democrats on key issues and could not be trusted.

Ackerson says he is not switching parties, but that Ridge will be more involved and that Parker’s views against council members' use of discretionary funds will hurt the district.

"She's not supporting using Neighborhood Development Funds in the district, and I think that's a huge mistake," he says. "With the Capitol Infrastructure Funds she's talking about allocating them in other districts other than District 18. And I think that's also a big mistake. I just don't think she's going to provide the quality representation that District 18 needs."

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Politics
6:30 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

Bellarmine to Host Metro Council District 8 Debate

Bellarmine University will host a debate for voters in the Metro Council 8th District featuring Republican challenger Kirt Jacobs and Democratic incumbent Tom Owen.

Owen is a three-term councilman and his seat is being challenged by Jacobs in the upcoming election. Jacobs is a local businessman who hosts "Leadership Landscape" a weekly one-on-one interview program.

Earlier this year, observers speculated that the 72-year-old Owen might retire and not seek re-election, but the longtime city lawmakers says he is committed to serving a full term and though he has won previous races by wide margins, he is taking this year’s election seriously.

"You would know by my current jitters that I am neither complacent about my request for the voters to send me for an additional term nor am I in anyway blasé or arrogant just presuming victory," he says.

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Politics
1:47 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Committee to Amend Discretionary Funds Policy

The Louisville Metro Council Accountability and Ethics Committee is voting Tuesday on more changes to the policy that governs the distribution of taxpayer dollars to non-profit groups.

A recent audit found that half of the discretionary grants given out by city lawmakers lacked proper documentation to determine if the funds were being spent properly.

Councilman Jerry Miller, R-19, is chairman of the accountability committee and a co-sponsor of the proposal along with Council President Jim King, D-10. He says the amendments being proposed give non-profit groups clear guidelines and should help restore public trust.

"The resolution that we’re going to hear today will start us on the path of restoring public confidence in this process, regardless of what individual council people—including myself—think of the overall process we have to be able to restore confidence that public funds are being used appropriately," says Miller.

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Politics
9:00 am
Mon September 10, 2012

Council to Honor U of L Economist

Economist Paul Coomes
The University of Louisville

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.

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Politics
7:26 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Council Overrides Fischer Landmarks Veto

In a historic vote, the Louisville Metro Council rejected Mayor Greg Fischer’s veto of the landmarks ordinance by an 18-to-7 vote.

The legislation was aimed at changing several provisions of the way the city designates historic sites and structures. Among the amendments was a change to allow a majority of council members to halt a decision made by the Landmarks Commission for further review.

The mayoral veto was the second in Fischer's administration, and was the first to be rejected by the council since city and county governments merged.

For months, council members held public forums and debated the measure until it passed last week. But Fischer vetoed the bill at the urging of preservationists, who argued the amendments favor developers and endanger the city's heritage. In a letter to city lawmakers, the mayor said council members were overstepping their bounds and politicizing the process.

Councilman Kelly Downard, R-16, voted for the ordinance and stood against the veto. He says the mayor admitted there were problems in the landmarks process and the council needed to step in due to a lack of oversight.

"We’re being told that the fabric of our heritage will be permanently diminished by providing oversight by this council. However, a review of the facts makes this seem a bit of a contradiction," he says. "Even the mayor in his veto message admits the Bauer site might have been a mistake. Oversight was needed, but it wasn’t there."

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Politics
5:31 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

Council Mulling Fischer Landmarks Veto

The Louisville Metro Council could override Mayor Greg Fischer's veto of contentious changes to the landmarks ordinance this week, but one member says the administration is twisting lawmakers' arms.

The legislation amended several provisions of the four-decade-old law that governs historic site declarations, but Fischer agreed with preservationists that the changes politicized the process and violated the separation of powers between the council and mayor's office.

Since city and county governments merged in 2003, there have been four mayoral vetoes of council measures and lawmakers have never mustered the necessary two-thirds vote to override.

Councilman Kelly Downard, R-16, who voted for the landmarks bill, says lawmakers have bipartisan agreement this time and should overturn the mayor's decision in part because Fischer is overstepping his bounds.

"The vote Thursday is not going to be about the ordinance again, it's going to be about overriding a veto. So there are other issues that come into play beyond the merits of the ordinance itself," he says. "And I'm hoping we end up with the 18 votes that we need. I just think (Fischer's) attempting to usurp some power of the council and I'm not exactly sure why. This is not a major issue for him to pull out the veto power."

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