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More funding for public safety employee salaries, graffiti removal and a park access study are among proposed amendments to Louisville’s 2022 budget.

The amended budget goes into effect on July 1. It passed its first hurdle on Monday when the Metro Council Budget Committee approved it. Now it awaits the full council’s approval. The amendments included an additional $9.3 million in raises for public safety workers such as police, firefighters and EMS. That’s on top of $6.2 million Mayor Greg Fischer set aside for police raises in his initial budget.

“We need police officers and we are losing them at too high of a rate,” said Budget Committee Chairman Bill Hollander. “We’re unable to hire them with competitive salaries, even competitive with some of the suburban cities in Louisville Metro. No one who wants a quality police force should be happy about that.”

Metro Council’s proposal to increase police raises comes as activist groups like Black Lives Matter Louisville and the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America have pushed to defund LMPD and move the money to social services. 

Fischer’s proposed operating budget funded an expansion of the ShotSpotter gunshot detection system in the California and Park Hill neighborhoods to the tune of $980,000. Metro Council’s amendments increase that funding by $620,000 to a total of $1.6 million. 

A 2019 investigation by the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting found Louisville police rarely investigated alerts from the ShotSpotter system.

Metro Council is also looking at amending budget language to require Louisville Metro Corrections to eliminate phone call fees by the end of the year and replacing $350,000 in revenue the department is expected to receive from telephone calls made by people currently incarcerated.

The Budget Committee also approved amendments to the capital budget, which controls longer-term public projects, and chose how to spend the $1 million Fischer designated for council priorities. 

Under the proposed amendments, $200,000 would be set aside to develop a plan for increasing equitable access to parks and other greenspace. The “Parks for All” Equitable Investment Plan would be created with a matching grant from the Louisville Parks Foundation.

Other council priority spending includes:

  • $65,000 for Catholic Charities to create an indigent burial program
  • $33,100 in increased funding for Family and Children’s Place
  • $16,500 in increased funding for the Center for Women and Families
  • $279,400 for expanding Goodwill Industries of Kentucky’s “Another Way” program, which connects homeless residents to day-rate work and social services

Metro Council’s budget amendments would also dedicate millions of dollars for renovation and expansion of Louisville’s public library system. Approximately $2 million would be set aside for renovating the Portland Library, installing a new elevator up to its second floor. More than $1 million would also be used to fund Phase I of creating a new library complex in the Fern Creek area.

A full list of Metro Council’s proposed budget amendments can be found here.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL.