Louisville mayor announces balanced budget, no new taxes [Opinion: The Arena]

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Mayor Greg Fischer, with General Counsel Pat Mulvihill

Next year’s budget was projected to have a shortfall of $20 to $30 million. However, a payment of $10.8 million announced earlier this week to settle the firefighter pension case in the current fiscal year means the deficit will be about $20 million.

balanced budget scales.jpgThe mayor said he is approaching next year’s deficit with numerous ideas to reduce expenses including cutting overtime, in co-operation with the city’s unions, and implementing LouieStat, a data tool to help directors better manage their departments. He also said he will further consider some of the budget ideas presented to him in a letter by the Metro Council.

The settlement with Insight Communications comes after a year of focused negotiations, and includes a one-time distribution of $3.5 million and preserves existing services and benefits to cable customers and the community – which was Mayor Greg Fischer’s primary goal.  “Our negotiating team has worked hard to protect cable customers and ensure that valuable community services are maintained – so this is a solid agreement for the community,” Fischer said.

The settlement agreement was reached Thursday night and will be finalized today. Fischer said the $3.5 million will immediately be used to reduce the current city government budget deficit. 

Under the settlement agreement, the City of Louisville’s franchise will remain in place until a new one can be ironed out with Time Warner. The current practice of providing cable at no charge to schools and government buildings will remain in place. In addition, a second government channel will become operational to provide additional coverage of city meetings, community events, public service information and educational programming.

insight logo5.jpgFischer praised the franchise negotiating team which included County Attorney Mike O’Connell; his General Counsel, Pat Mulvihill; Ron Weston; Matt Schuster, manager of the city’s Metro TV Channel 25; and a state and national telecommunications expert.

The franchise agreement with Insight will eventually be transferred over to Time Warner which recently gained federal approval to acquire Insight. The city will then begin new negotiations with Time Warner on a new franchise agreement.

Fischer said he has contacted Time Warner officials and will work with them to maintain and hopefully increase the nearly 1,500 call center, sales and production jobs that Insight currently provides in Louisville. “We will be making an all-out effort to demonstrate that Louisville is the right place for Time Warner to stay and grow their business,” Fischer said.

"I also want to thank our citizens for their more than 300 budget ideas which we received via Facebook and Twitter," Fischer said. "The community is aware that next year's fiscal budget will be a challenge. We are already hard at work on it."

WDRB’s Katie Delaune reports:

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Louisville.com's The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions).  The Arena is read by more people in Louisville than in any other city in America.  Photo credits:  WDRB, Insight, WikiMedia.

About Thomas McAdam
At various times I have been a student, a soldier, a college Political Science teacher, a political campaign treasurer, and legal adviser to Louisville's Police Department and Board of Aldermen. I now practice law and share my political opinions with anyone who will listen.
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