LOUISVILLE (NEWS RELEASE) - Calling it "a way for us to experience a renaissance in our community and maximize the wonderful momentum we now have," Mayor Greg Fischer today used his annual State of the City address to urge citizen involvement in lobbying for LIFT - a constitutional amendment that would allow local voters to invest in specific, short-term projects.
The mayor made his remarks at the Downtown Rotary club, meeting today at Churchill Downs. Fischer noted that the Downs is an example of an organization which has had to, on several occasions, invest capital to meet rising customer expectations - and reap the accompanying financial return.
Likewise, he noted, the city must upgrade its "quality of place" offerings to draw skilled workers and the jobs that follow such workers to Louisville.
Many of Louisville's competitor cities are allowed to use a temporary sales tax increase to rapidly fund projects from transportation enhancements to park projects to convention centers or music halls. Thirty-seven states allow for local option -- but Kentucky is not among them. The result, he said, is that Louisville has to work for decades to cobble together funding to pay for improvements like Waterfront Park.
"Waterfront Park is a global best practice - and we are grateful," he said. "But it took nearly 30 years from concept to completion. Our competitor cities are moving much faster than that. To be the best, we cannot just compare ourselves to ourselves. We - and people worldwide - must compare ourselves to other great growing cities."
Waterfront Park could have been funded in a single year with the local option, Fischer said.
In today's world, he said, "people don't follow jobs. Jobs follow people. And people are increasingly living where the quality of place is high. People are looking for the entire package - good schools, the arts, reasonable cost of living, a beautiful natural environment, and a modern, diverse built environment."
Fischer urged Rotary members and everyone else in the community and across the Commonwealth to call 1-800-372-7181 to voice support for LIFT. That number reaches the State Capitol and the operators will help callers determine their representative and make their voice heard.
"I promise you that if everyone in this room calls Frankfort - and if each of you got 10 more people to call, LIFT will move even faster," he said. "The landscape in Frankfort would begin to shift toward the future - if you decide to have your voice as a citizen heard!"
To learn more about LIFT:
follow on Twitter -- @liftkentucky
or like on Facebook -- facebook.com/liftkentucky
The full text of the speech is available here.