Metro Council Approves the FY 2019-2020 Operating and Capital Budgets
Louisville – By a vote of 24 to 1, the Louisville Metro Council has approved the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Operating Budget for Metro Government. In a unanimous vote, the Council has approved the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year Capital Budget for Metro Government.
“Our task was to appropriate available funds in a way which would best serve the public, agree on a budget which would draw the most support on the Council and be signed by the Mayor. The job was much more difficult this year because of our dramatically higher pension costs, which are one part of the budget we cannot reduce. The result is a budget that makes cuts in nearly every department and many services provided to Louisville residents. We have tried to minimize those cuts as much as possible, but they remain very deep”, says Councilman Bill Hollander (D-9), Chair of the Budget Committee. “Unfortunately, the pension costs will rise again next year and for several years after that, so even deeper cuts will be coming unless we find new revenue.”
“I am pleased that despite increasing expenses, the Council was able to come together on a budget that moves the conversation from crisis to correction. In a budget year where our expenses grew more than our revenue, we were forced to look more closely at how we are spending taxpayer dollars. This process allowed us to ask some very difficult questions, examine how some programs were being run, and to prioritize which services and amenities the citizens expect,” said Councilman Kevin Kramer (R-11), Vice Chair of the Budget Committee. “I am proud of the fact that we moved the police recruit class forward and offered additional support to new recruits, we were able to restore funding for 2 pools, restore regular library hours and reopen a library. This budget maintains our plans for addressing the paving needs of our streets, the health needs of our citizens and the maintenance needs of our buildings.”
The recommended budget included a projection that LMPD will have 40 fewer officers at the end of the year than the beginning, due to bringing on fewer recruits to replace officers leaving the force. The Council approved an amendment to the Mayor’s proposed budget which moved one recruit class up one month and includes a new recruit allowance, but those changes will not completely reverse the projected loss of officers.
Louisville Fire Department will lose 15 positions through attrition. The department is still working on a plan to absorb that loss while minimizing the effect on response times for fire and medical calls.
The Louisville Free Public Library, which had the largest percentage cut in the Mayor’s proposed budget, will see money restored to preserve hours at branch libraries and to resume service in Middletown, provided a facility is made available at little or no cost to the library. LFPL will still see some cuts, including closure of the Fern Creek Library and some personnel reductions.
Weekly recycling and seasonal yard waste collection in the Urban Services District is funded in the budget but a wet-dry recycling program in the Central Business District will be eliminated, resulting in less recycling and more items sent to the landfill.
External Agencies are funded at $1.3 Million, a reduction of 28% from the previous year’s budget.
To address food insecurity issues, the budget includes a $200,000 appropriation to Dare to Care.
Youth Detention services is funded through December 31, 2019, when its programs will transition to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, as is the case in all other Kentucky counties.
Funding for the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods is reduced by over $1 Million, eliminated three of four Cure Violence sites but retaining to hospital-based violence reduction programs. It provides $110,000 in funding for the Centerstone Crisis and Information Center.
The approved budget increases funding for paving, sidewalk repair and construction, and maintains other recommended funding for Parks, the Zoo, and other projects and services.
The following are statements from other Metro Council Members after the passage of the Budgets:
“I want to thank the members of our Budget Committee for reviewing and recommending one of the most challenging budgets we have approved. This time around I believe we engaged the people we serve to ask them their thoughts on moving forward. While we have a balanced budget, it came with a cost of cutting services while maintaining public safety. This is not a one-time thing. In the years ahead, we must give serious consideration to finding new revenues. We must also stress to the lawmakers in Frankfort that the current situation with the pension is not acceptable. If left unchanged there will tougher cuts ahead. It’s time to work together to bring a realistic approach to solving the pension crisis and not placed on the backs of local governments and employees.”
President David James, District 6
“We have gone through a thorough process which has culminated in us reaching this balanced budget, but it has not been without making difficult choices and painful cuts to our services that the residents of Louisville Metro have come to depend on and enjoy. Unfortunately, we will have to continue to cut services well beyond this year into the distant future unless new revenue is provided, or our pension obligations are lessened by Frankfort.”
Councilman Pat Mulvihill, President Pro Tem, Chair of the Majority Caucus, District 10
“This was a tough budget to vote for because of its impact on so many people. I am glad that we were able to find funding to continue to help Dare to Care because so many are in need. I also want everyone to know, I will be paying very close attention in advocating for the reopening of the Norton Camp Taylor pool next year. We need to get all our pools reopened as pools for the community not splash parks. It is what I will be advocating for because we need to make sure we keep the needs of our young people in mind.
Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, District 2
“The Mayor presented his budget plan, the Community responded, and we rolled up our sleeves doing the work we were elected to do. No one got everything they wanted and not everything got funded. I voted for the budget because it maintained a focus on public safety by putting LMPD trained Officers on the street sooner than expected and we continued to fund affordable housing in addition to the $41 million provided during the past four years. We responded to the many concerns related to homelessness by providing $1 million for sheltering and services. This will help provide for pets, partners and possessions in homeless circumstances. Complex challenges require common sense solutions and it is our responsibility to provide safer neighborhoods and better services for all. This includes basic needs for food, clothing and shelter. And yes, we fought for swimming pools and libraries to make sure no one gets left behind. Not our children, not our seniors, not anyone. There’s room for everyone to help our community be as good as we say it is. We need businesses, healthcare, education, nonprofit and interfaith communities to reimagine their roles and create common sense solutions. Together – we hold the answer. We can do this, YES we can!”
Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith, District 4
“Serving on the Budget Committee and working diligently with all of my colleagues to balance a budget with very limited resources proved to be an extraordinary lesson in fiscal reality and responsibility. In the end, we put dollars into the parts of our community where they will have the most impact, while minimizing draconian cuts to public safety and infrastructure. This budget is one for the history books.”
Councilwoman Paula McCraney, District 7
“Many of the decisions made within this budget were focused on right-sizing departments and cutting programs that failed to deliver results. This budget reflects the priorities of the full community and is not focused on punishing groups but instead supporting those most in need. I am particularly proud of our investment in the Centerstone Crisis Line, Dare to Care Food Bank as well as increased spending on paving, parks and libraries.”
Councilman Scott Reed, District 16
“The Metro Council was able to restore many of the services and projects that were cut in the Mayor’s original presentation. Rather than taking the easy way out, members of the Metro Council dug deep into the budget, listening to the testimony of department heads as well as ideas generated by residents, we were able to eliminate waste while also increasing investment in critical services such as police, paving and our libraries. This budget better serves the people of Louisville Metro and paves the way for even more savings in the next fiscal year.”
Councilwoman Marilyn Parker, District 18
“Two months ago, members of the Louisville Metro Council rejected the calls by Mayor Fischer and others to triple the insurance tax for residents of Louisville Metro. We promised that we could find efficiencies and cuts to offset increasing operational costs and I am proud to say that we achieved many of those goals. I am particularly proud of restoring library hours, saving the Middletown Library, funding Dare to Care as well as addressing our need for a new police headquarters and location for LMPD’s 8th Division.”
Councilman Anthony Piagentini, District 19