Mayor Greg Fischer’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year includes more dollars for public safety programs he said will supplement policing without changing the Louisville Metro Police Department’s funding.
That comes as the city continues to grapple with the fallout of the police killing of Breonna Taylor and subsequent mass protests, as well as 2020’s record number of homicides, which are still occurring at high rates in 2021.
He proposed increasing the overall budget, as well as the city’s general fund, for the first time in years.
“This was the first budget in a long time where we’ve actually had some resources to spend and not just cut, cut, cut,” Fischer told reporters Thursday.
He said Louisville’s financial outlook is improving, compared to the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. And he said his budget proposal takes into account the anticipated approximately $430 million the city will get through the federal American Rescue Plan, though that funding is not built into the budget proposal. He said the U.S. Department of the Treasury will provide guidance on eligible expenses next month.
Fischer is calling for a general fund — the main bucket used for operating costs — of more than $652 million in the fiscal year starting July 1. Officials estimate the current year’s budget will land around $649 million, which is above the estimates from a year ago. In 2019-2020, the general fund was about $615 million.
The suggested budget for LMPD is essentially flat compared to this year, at nearly $199 million. Last summer, Metro Council passed a budget that included about $190 million for police. Budget documents released Thursday show the current estimate for this year is more than $198 million.
The police union, some council members and others say police need better pay and benefits to compete with neighboring departments to stem attrition from LMPD. Officers are currently working under a short-term contract that included a pay bump; that contract will expire at the end of June.
Fischer pushed back on calls from those who say the police department should be defunded, with money from that budget being put toward other services to prevent and address crime.
“The notion of defunding the police is not practical,” he said.
Instead, he is proposing more investment in public safety services, from about $4.6 million this year to about $19.6 million next year. These investments would include:
- $600,000 for the Synergy Project, which aims to build trust between communities and police
- $2 million for the Office of Youth Development
- $550,000 for the Group Violence Intervention program, which got $350,000 through mid-year budget adjustments this year
- $763,500 to fund the new Office of Inspector General and Civilian Review Board
The Metro Council will now work on the budget, with a deadline to pass a formal budget in late June.
Louisville’s current budget is available to read here. Read through Fischer’s budget proposals below:
Reporter John Boyle contributed to this story.