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No new taxes, 28 miles of bike lanes in Fischer budget

by Joe Arnold


Posted on May 20, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Updated Monday, May 20 at 5:24 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- After years of significant cuts, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's third proposed budget "makes long-needed and deferred infrastructure investments," while not raising taxes, Fischer said on Monday.

Highlighted by 28 new miles of bike lanes, the mayor unveiled his fiscal year 2014 budget to the Metro Council Monday afternoon.

Click here to see Fischer's budget plan.

“After many years of budgets that required significant cuts, we are finally able to make some investments in basic infrastructure,” Fischer said. “We still have a deficit and we still must watch every dollar we spend, but with an improved economy and increases in revenues we are in a much better position this budget than the past two.”

The $716.2 million budget includes $58 million in federal dollars.  If the U.S. Government's sequester cuts continue, the city will assess how to implement them on a case-by-case basis, said the city's Chief Financial Officer, Steve Rowland.

Approximately 60 percent of the city’s $528 million general fund budget is spent on public safety and includes two police recruit classes and fire and corrections classes while continuing the new paramedic training academy.

A $2 million outlay would purchase 15 new ambulances.

The budget also increases the annual emergency maintenance budget for Metro Parks and Public Works from $500,000 each to $750,000 and $830,000 respectively.

Since city-county merger in 2013, Louisville Metro has spent, on average, $2.5 million each year on road construction.  The 2014 budget hopes to spend $6.4 million to pave roads and create bike lanes this summer and fall.

$1.3 million of the road construction would be funded by the Capital Infrastructure Funds of Metro Council members.  Each of the 26 Metro Council members is budgeted $100,000 in capital funds and $75,000 in Neighborhood Development Funds.

The 28 new miles of bike lanes are concentrated in Old Louisville to connect the University of Louisville, Old Louisville and downtown.

Rowland said the roads to be paved will be determined by the Public Works Department based on the most urgent needs and also according to the contributions from each district account.

Fischer emphasized that since he took office, his team has reduced an annual $22 million structural imbalance to $7 million in the 2014 budget.  He aims to eliminate the shortfall altogether.

The budget provides non-union employees a 2 percent cost-of-living raise (union employees raises are set by their union contract).

Though the budget maintains current grant levels to external agencies, including arts and social service agencies, funding for community ministries which serve the poor is increased by 21 percent, to $1.1 million.

“The ministries provide direct services to our most vulnerable citizens -- and they do it well,” Fischer said. “Their funding has remained flat for many years even as the need has increased.”

Fischer also kept funding levels for the University of Louisville indigent health care fund, known as the Quality Care and Charity Trust, at $7 million, the same level for the past six years.

Information below courtesy Louisville Metro Government

The budget is the first since the Fischer administration adopted its strategic plan -- and the budget aligns with that plan. Budget highlights -- and their strategic goals -- include:

Deliver Excellent City Services

o Buys 15 ambulances.

o Purchases a new body scanner at Community Corrections Center.

o Invests in redesign of the city website, in part to make it easy to use on smart phones.

o Installs self-service check-out stations at five libraries, Bon Air, Iroquois, Shively, Westport, and Highlands-Shelby Park.

o Adds new tornado sirens, near I-71 and US 42, near Bardstown and Beulah Church roads and near Shelbyville Road and the county line.

o Installation of new LEED-certified buildings for the city’s three of five recycling drop-off locations.

Take job creation to the next level

o Continues funding Metropolitan College, the partnership with UPS, at $975,000.

o Continues funding GLI to create jobs, at $956,000.

o Invests $1.5 million on downtown sidewalks to help attract new retails and businesses.

o Dedicates $500,000 to assembling land in West Louisville for economic development.

Invest in people and neighborhoods

o Provides $500,000 in matching grant which, along with Olmsted Conservancy dollars, will finally fix the crumbling Northern Overlook at Iroquois Park.

o Provides $750,000 in matching money that will, in total, secure $3 million of outside money for the Louisville Loop.

o Hires a Vacant and Abandoned Properties coordinator and reorganizes the Community Services and Revitalization staff to create a VAP team – making sure our various efforts to address the vacant and abandoned property issues are leveraged in one place. In addition, the city will hire new positions in the county attorney’s office to expedite foreclosures.

Make plans for a vibrant future.

o Invests $150,000 in the 25-year Vision Louisville plan (which has to date been largely funded by private donations).

o Buys the larger recycling bins for two new routes inside the Urban Services District (routes to be determined later).

o Hires an Urban Forester and provides $50,000 for a tree canopy study and another $100,000 for planting trees.