Mayor Greg Fischer issued his budget cuts proposal to the Louisville Metro Council on Thursday.
Sam Upshaw Jr., Louisville Courier Journal
After months of discussion about Louisville’s budget shortfall, the ill-fated insurance tax and cuts in services across the city, the Metro Council will vote Tuesday on a budget that looks markedly different than what Mayor Greg Fischer proposed in April.
The highlights include restored library hours, the continued operation of the Middletown library, funding to move a police recruit class up by a month and money for two outdoor pools next summer.
Council members would pay for them by turning over operations of Youth Detention Services to the state by Dec. 31, cutting the city’s Cure Violence “interrupter” program and by reducing budgets such as the Office of Performance and Innovation.
The full council vote will take place at a meeting beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
What the Metro Council changed
►Youth Detention Services: Under the council’s amended budget, control of Youth Detention Services would go to the state by Dec. 31.
The budget requests that “efforts are made to have the Commonwealth of Kentucky operate such a facility in or near Louisville Metro,” but Kentucky’s top justice official made it clear there would be no way for it to operate a local detention center.
“We simply cannot operate the facility,” said John Tilley, secretary of the state Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. “We would be forced to find placement for Louisville youths outside the Greater Louisville area.”
Read this: State says it can’t operate a juvenile detention center in Jefferson County
Council members explained after the budget committee meeting that Jefferson County is the only county in the state that operates its own center and state per diem payments don’t come close to covering the cost of operation.
“We are the only county in the state that is doing this, and the state has facilities,” said Councilman Kevin Kramer, R-11th District. “Our hope would be that they took a look at Jefferson County … (and) offer those services here.”
►Library hours and the Middletown branch: The council wants to restore library hours cut across the system, bringing back operations of the Middletown library.
Fischer had proposed saving money by closing two libraries and shortening branch hours — prompting an outcry from Metro Council members.
Middletown’s branch would open, so long as there’s a space provided by the city of Middletown or some other entity at little to no cost.
Fern Creek would stay closed, though the amendment adds that Fern Creek “remains in the Library Master Plan and shall be a priority.”
►Yard waste and recycling: City lawmakers found money to keep yard waste and recycling pickup weekly, not every other week, as had been proposed.
Instead of saving $318,000 by going to biweekly collection the council proposed reducing personnel costs through one attrition and reduced the recycling contract for downtown brown carts.
Previously: Recycling and yard waste pickups could be next in budget cut list
► Violence ‘interrupter’ program: The city’s violence “interrupters,” tasked with identifying and intervening in conflicts before they happen lost out on thousands in funding, following public scrutiny of the program.
The Office for Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods, the city agency that oversaw the rollout of the Cure Violence model, will get stripped of roughly $1 million under the council’s plan. Of that, about $130,000 is personnel costs, but the rest is contractual payments, which looks to be much of the interrupter program.
A city spokeswoman, Jessica Wethington, said in a statement that the mayor remains committed to his six-pillar violence reduction plans and that the Office for Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods remains a critical piece of that plan, “especially in the areas of violence prevention, intervention and re-entry.”
What happens if the mayor doesn’t like what passes?
It’s possible Fischer could veto the budget ordinance or line items in the budget.
If that happens, the council could override any veto with a two-thirds vote, as outlined in state law.
If Louisville Metro were to fail to balance a budget before the start of the fiscal year, state law says the budget ordinance of the previous fiscal year would have the “full force and effect as if readopted.”
In other words, the city government would not shut down like the federal government. Instead, it would continue to function under fiscal year 2018-19’s budget.
What happens next?
Hollander has said the committee will be talking about city spending, potential savings and the budget situation “much earlier,” beginning as soon as August.
Many city lawmakers are hoping for expanded revenue options from the state, which could grant them the ability to tax restaurants or levy a local sales tax, for example.
Absent movement from the statehouse, Louisville’s situation remains much the same: find more to cut in the budget or raise revenue.
How can I follow along?
Metro TV is broadcasted on Spectrum Cable channel 184 or AT&T U-verse channel 99.
It’s also available online. Visit louisvilleky.gov/government/metrotv/services/watch-metro-tv for a link to watch.
Or, follow along with City Hall reporter Darcy Costello on Twitter at @dctello.
Darcy Costello: 502-582-4834; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dctello. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/darcyc.
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