Budget cuts may douse July 4 celebration

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Associated Press

Posted on July 2, 2014 at 5:00 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville leaders say the city's Independence Day celebration likely will be eliminated due to state budget cuts.

David Karem, president and executive director of the Waterfront Development Corp., told The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/1nZ31JD) that he discovered on Tuesday that lawmakers had cut all state funding for the organization over the next two years.

Karem said the $420,000 for each year made up a significant portion of the agency's $2.3 million annual budget and would force "serious cuts and the cancellation of some events. We had no indication that the long partnership that we had with the state on our park was in jeopardy. We will assess all options."

Waterfront agency spokesman Mike Kimmel said the most certain result would be cancelling the July 3-4 Waterfront Independence Festival, which offers concerts and fireworks and usually draws about 150,000 people.

Officials say they also plan to scale back plans for the 100th birthday of the Belle of Louisville.

Kimmel said about $500,000 has already been raised from public and private sources, but without state funding, "we will likely make it a much smaller event and probably not have the other riverboats," Kimmel said.

"The Belle's birthday will still be celebrated, but the event will be a more local, hometown affair," he said.

Republican state Sen. Dan Seum of Louisville was among conferees that reached a state budget compromise. He said on Wednesday that no one complained at the time about cuts to waterfront funding. He said lawmakers were focused on discussions about funds for issues such indigent health care.

Karem said the agency remains dedicated to maintaining Waterfront Park as "welcoming and available for public enjoyment" and his employees "will concentrate on expanding opportunities for the types of significant events that are major economic engines for the city, such as the Forecastle Festival, Ironman Triathlon, Kentucky Derby Festival, and the Waterfront Wednesdays concert series."

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Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com

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