While Greg Fisher may not have been the first choice of the majority of Louisvillians for the job as Metro Mayor, even his most hardened political opponents will have to admit that his early efforts in that office have been strikingly innovative and mainly successful. And Thursday night, he presented his first proposed budget to the Metro Council for its consideration.
Fischer has been in office for less than six months, and his $712 million budget submitted to the Metro Council is an attempt to address a projected $22.5 million shortfall, while maintaining basic city services and workforce levels, and providing strategic investments for the future. And he proposes to do all of this without raising taxes.
Some highlights of Mayor Fischer’s proposed budget:
- Libraries: Re-open libraries on Sundays, design new Southwest Regional Library in Valley Station, renovate the Western Branch Library.
- Public Safety: New fire and police recruit classes, new Emergency Management Services academy, improved citywide emergency alert system, synchronization of suburban traffic lights, and making much-needed improvements to roads.
- Projected savings: Requiring all employees making more than $70,000 to take a week of unpaid furlough, using $3.5 million from police-seized drug money, saving $2.8 million on health care costs, reducing Metro Council Capital Infrastructure funds by $1.3 million, and the sale of some of the city’s surplus property.
“This is a very basic budget that continues the important work of government without painful cuts that would impact citizens,” Fischer said. “This budget was cobbled together with more creativity than cash, and more stopgaps than solutions. We still have a major structural deficit — expenses don’t match revenue — and it’s my goal to eliminate that deficit during the next four years.”
In preparing his first budget, Fischer held five budget hearings across the city to receive direct input from citizens, solicited suggestions from city employees and worked closely with the Metro Council. “I received hundreds of suggestions – including some people who had specific, concrete ideas for reducing costs,” Fischer said. “People I see at the grocery or on Facebook and Twitter haven’t been shy about telling us what they think, either -- and we’ve incorporated some of those ideas into this spending plan.”
The full city budget (.pdf format) is available at www.louisvilleky.gov/yourtaxdollarsatwork