Economy

City officials plan to hold meetings across Louisville to listen to and address constituents’ concerns about looming budget matters related to rising pension and health care costs.

Last week, Mayor Greg Fischer announced a plan to raise insurance taxes to fill the projected $65 million budget shortfall the city expects to face over the next four years. He said that new revenue would help avoid what he described as “devastating” cuts to city services and personnel.

Now, Metro Council members are seeking feedback from their constituents through a number of public meetings ahead of a March 21 deadline to approve the tax increase. The next set of meetings is on Feb. 23.

Tony Hyatt, a spokesman for the council’s Democratic caucus, said legislators normally hold at least two public meetings ahead of the mayor’s springtime budget proposal. But with the possibility of tax hikes and service cuts, he said more meetings are needed.

“Any time you start talking about raising taxes and any time you start talking about budget cuts, it’s not that people are confused,” Hyatt said. “This is an effort to make sure everybody understands what we’re facing and give them a chance to comment on it.”

The following meetings have been announced:

  • Democrats Nicole George of District 21 and Kevin Triplett of District 15 will hold a session on Feb. 23 at the Iroquois Library (601 W. Woodlawn Ave.) at 10:30 a.m.
  • Fellow majority caucus member Brent Ackerson, the District 26 representative who has criticized “lack of public input” in the tax proposal, is having a budget discussion from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. at St. John Paul II Church (3042 Hikes Lane) on Feb. 23. City CFO Daniel Frockt is scheduled to attend.
  • Markus Winkler, a Democrat and co-sponsor of the tax hike ordinance, will hold a town hall on Feb. 26 at the East Government Center (200 Juneau Dr.) from 6 to 8 p.m. for District 17 residents. Frockt is slated to attend this meeting.
  • On March 2, District 10 Democrat Pat Mulvihill will host a conversation at Tim Tam (1022 Clarks Lane) at 8:30 a.m.
  • On March 4 and 18, District 3 Democrat Keisha Dorsey plans to host Office Hours with Shively Mayor Beverly Chester Burton ahead of the home rule city’s council meetings. The sessions will take place at Shively City Hall (3920 Dixie Hwy.) from 6:00 to 6:45 p.m.

Starting next week, the council’s budget committee, chaired by District 9 Democrat Bill Hollander, will hold public meetings in addition to its regular sessions.

The first will be on Feb. 28 at 6 p.m., following the committee meeting in Council Chambers at 601 W. Jefferson St. The second public meeting will be on March 4 at 6 p.m., also in Council Chambers. Those wishing to speak at these meetings can do so starting an hour before they start, on the third floor of City Hall.

Frockt will give a presentation at a special budget committee meeting on Feb. 25 at 4:30 p.m.

Council members are divided on the proposals they face, with at least one Republican — Marilyn Parker of District 18, who serves on the budget committee — vowing to vote against the tax hike.

“I am severely disappointed in the administration for employing scare tactics as a means to garner support rather than do the hard work of cutting the Metro budget,” she wrote in her e-newsletter on Wednesday.

Residents may submit questions to the budget committee using this online form by March 6. The Louisville Metro Office of Management and Budget aims to post answers online by March 14.

Amina Elahi is WFPL's City Reporter.