Louisville Metro Council voted down a proposal to require Metro Council members to consider race and income equity when budgeting their own office and district expenses.
Currently all local government departments, except Metro Council, are required to submit equity impact statements that consider how policies would affect neighborhoods of color and track their progress.
Metro Council would have had to do the same under the proposal that failed last Thursday.
Some opposing Metro Council members, including Republican Anthony Piagentini of District 19, said the budget process is already fair.
“It’s one of the few areas where we use, from my opinion, an equality lens versus an equity lens,” Piagentini said. “The Metro Council budget, is, in its totality, less than 1% of the total budget, the vast majority of it is our it’s our salaries, it’s our staffs, salaries, it’s our caucus, staff salaries, then you have office budgets, which is all distributed equally, or portioned by population.”
Piagentini and others said the measure would risk diverting money away from suburban districts in need to those in the urban core.
District 21 Representative Nicole George, a Democrat, said the measure would have helped underserved communities catch up to the rest of the city.
“There is such a disparity of need across our council districts as a reflection of redlining and years of segregation,” George said. “It’s important that while we’re all doing the best we can to secure funding and bringing that to our districts, what we can also be doing to Metro as a whole to strengthen our city that then benefits us as a whole.”
Democratic District 5 Council Member Donna Purvis said it would help communities, like those in the majority-Black West End, whose needs have been historically neglected.
“We still don’t get the services that we should have gotten, should be getting to have equitable living, that would improve our quality of lives here,” Purvis said. “The money needs to be spent where the money is needed. Please understand that. And I don’t think this should be about a Black and white thing. I don’t even think this should be about an urban service district thing versus a county thing.”
The proposal would have required the Council’s Equity and Inclusion Committee to create guidelines for those spending goals and review the council’s budget before it’s finalized.