Fischer proposes 3 percent LG&E fee to fund downtown security


by Joe Arnold

Posted on May 22, 2014 at 4:18 PM

Updated Thursday, May 22 at 6:37 PM

Do you agree with a 3 percent increase on your LG&E gas bill to help keep Waterfront Park safe?

Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) - The public is demanding better police protection after a wave of youth violence downtown two months ago, and Mayor Greg Fischer wants to add a 3 percent fee to LG&E bills to pay for extra officers and surveillance.

Fischer said the 3 percent franchise fee on natural gas use, not electricity, will cost about $20 per year for most families.

The roving bands of teen ages that terrorized downtown Louisville on March 22 sent six people to the hospital, unsettled a community and sparked a call for better police protection.

Steve Rowland, Louisville Metro CFO, said, "The city estimates the LG&E fee will net about $5 million each year toward Fischer's proposed $6.8 million in additional revenue directed toward public safety."

If approved by the Metro Council, it will add 24 officers to Louisville Metro Police ranks, 15 at a new downtown area patrol headquartered in a new facility at the convention center at Second and Jefferson Streets.

Nine other additional officers would be added according to criminal activity, which the city expects to be in the 1st and 2nd divisions in West Louisville.

Lt. Col. Ozzy Gibson, LMPD Assistant Chief, said, "The gas cash would also build upon the beefed up security cameras installed at Waterfront Park. A new Real Time Crime Center at the Metrosafe building (will have) some 60 surveillance cameras throughout the city . . . to detect violence before it happens.

In all, $4.7 million of the $6.8 million in new public safety funds would be directed to boosting police protection. It would also hire more people to staff the home incarceration program and add a narcotics prosecutor to the Commonwealth's Attorney's office.

The other $2.2 million would be directed toward community centers, including $1 million toward youth development programs.