Politics

Louisville Metro Council President David Yates is looking to establish a council committee to corral the city’s debts and deferred maintenance costs.

In recent briefings on the city’s debt situation, Yates said he realized “some of the numbers were very surprising.”

The committee would to tasked with determining how many agencies are in debt and how much is owed, and then developing a comprehensive plan for addressing the obligations, said Yates, Democrat District 25.

“I think it’s important that each of my colleagues have a very thorough understanding of what the debt is,” he said. “So we can address it, and it’s not a nightmare tomorrow.”

It’s a necessary move to make, Yates said, if the city hopes to see continued economic success in the post-recession era.

“Now is the time we start focusing on paying down some of that debt,” he added.

Yates said the committee would be more than a focus group — he’s looking for “some very real answers” to result, he said.

The vice chair of the council budget committee, Republican Councilwoman Angela Leet, did not immediately return a request for comment on Yates’ plan. Republican Caucus Chair Kevin Kramer of District 11 also did not immediately return a request for comment.

Yates said he expects the committee to be formed in the coming weeks, but said it’s still unclear how many council members will join it. He said he’s gauging the interest of each member before making any determinations.

Louisville Metro Council members in recent weeks have been tussling with how to best spend a projected $10 million budget surplus.

Councilman Brent Ackerson, Democrat from District 26, is proposing allocating the entirety of the surplus for capital infrastructure repair, namely for roads and sidewalks.

He’s repeatedly pointed at a $112 million road paving deficit to back his proposal. If city leaders continue to neglect funding needed infrastructure repair, the deficit will continue to grow, Ackerson said.

“It’s going to grow to a point where the fear is all we’ll have money to do in this city is pay down the deficits,” he said in an interview with WFPL last week.

Yates would not say who may be tapped to lead the committee. He did note that Ackerson has “obvious shown a lot of time and commitment to the issue.”

“He’s definitely taken the ball and ran with it early on,” he said.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.