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May 24, 2012
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Mayor proposes balanced city budget, builds Southwest Library, invests in public safety

Also makes progress toward addressing structural budget imbalance

LOUISVILLE, KY (May 24, 2012) — Mayor Greg Fischer today proposed a balanced budget for the new fiscal year that does not raise taxes but makes strategic investments in the future, including building the Southwest Regional Library, funding three new police recruit classes and foreclosing on 100 vacant and abandoned properties.

The spending plan — $512 million in general fund dollars — also invests significantly in public safety, which will result in 96 new police officers and one new fire recruit class.

The budget also makes structural changes that will help the city begin to solve its fiscal challenges so future expenses more closely match future revenues. The budget, for example, reduces overtime across city government by 10 percent, a $3.1 million savings, and the city will begin to see savings due to new union contracts in Corrections and Emergency Medical Services. In addition, the mayor is giving up his contingency fund.

In 17 months of the administration, Fischer and his team have addressed 40 percent of the $25 million structural imbalance.

“Louisville is one of the best cities in the world and it deserves the best city government in the world – best at economic development, best at protecting our citizens, best at responding to emergencies,” Fischer said. “This budget helps us start to achieve those goals and sets us on the right course.”

The budget contains no layoffs and no furloughs and gives non-union employees a 2 percent cost-of-living raise.

The city was facing a $20 million deficit in the budget, but was able to close that gap for two reasons.

First, revenues are estimated to grow 2.7 percent, a more robust rate than originally anticipated, which will produce $13.5 million. “We are seeing increased tax revenues from an overall improved economy,” Fischer said.

Second, the city is selling two downtown parking lots – the City Hall Lot and the Mud lot – to the Parking Authority of River City for $10.7 million. PARC is also paying the city $4 million for two garages which it purchased from the former county government at merger but for which the payment was never made.

During his mayoral campaign in 2010, Fischer promised citizens that he would begin construction on the Southwest Regional Library in his first term.

The library, to be located in Valley Station on Dixie Highway, will cost $13 million. The city will pay $9.5 million and the Library Foundation will raise $3.5 million.

“This is one of several great examples of how we have leveraged taxpayer dollars with contributions from the private sector,” Fischer said.

Other ways in which the city attracted private dollars include:

• $1 million SummerWorks jobs program for at-risk teens. The city is contributing $100,000 and the private sector $900,000;

• $900,000 to purchase 82 acres of land that will connect the Louisville Loop with Jefferson Memorial Forest. The city will contribute $450,000 and David and Betty Jones will contribute $450,000;

• The creation of the Louisville Heritage Conservation Fund to help save and restore historic properties in Louisville in emergency situations. The city is contributing $500,000 toward that fund to be matched dollar-for-dollar by a private donor. The first project to receive a loan from the fund will be the Whiskey Row project on Main Street.

The mayor also continued funding $4.9 million in grants to external agencies, arts, community ministries, and social service agencies. He 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 since city-county merger in 2003.

Other budget highlights include:

• $1.5 million to replace the HVAC system at Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center in Crescent Hill;

• $500,000 to assemble West Louisville property to help attract business. One of the biggest obstacles to job creation in that area is the lack of large tracts of land;

• $500,000 for lighting and other improvements on South Fourth Street, between the Seelbach and Brown hotels, to attract retail downtown;

• $400,000 to purchase 55-gallon recycling bins for two neighborhoods to be chosen at a later date. The city is piloting the larger bins on two routes to determine if people recycle more often;

• $125,000 to help foreclose on 100 of the most marketable vacant properties. Those properties, in turn, would be sold to private investors who would renovate them and improve neighborhoods;

• $90,000 to hire a nurse to help with non-emergency calls for EMS;

• $75,000 to buy e-books for library users;

• $60,000 to hire a tree inspector to help improve the city’s tree canopy;

The mayor presented his budget plan today to the Metro Council, which will spend the next month reviewing it before a final vote in late June. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

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