LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer today provided the public with an update on steps being taken to address a $35 million budget shortfall in the fiscal year starting July 1, and he and Louisville Metro Council President David James invited employees and residents to share their ideas for efficiencies via a confidential online form.
Noting that the new fiscal year is just 87 days away, Mayor Fischer said he and his staff “are poring over details of the budget, working to find ways to address this shortfall while imposing the least amount of pain to the people we serve.”
Mayor Fischer outlined some steps he and his team have already taken and will take over the next several weeks to address the budget shortfall, which is expected to grow to $65 million by fiscal year 2023:
- The June LMPD recruit class is being canceled, because offers would have to have been made this month, before Mayor Fischer presents his budget on April 25 and before the Council votes on June 25. “It’s just financially unwise to hire people without knowing you have the budget to pay them,” Mayor Fischer said, adding that decisions about future classes in the next fiscal year are pending.
- The city has informed employees of changes to their health insurance benefits. Most policies for Metro employees will see an increase of 3 percent on premiums, and most plans will see an increase on deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses.
- The city is looking at the possibility of eliminating cost-of-living increases for Louisville Metro Government employees in the next fiscal year. Because 75 percent of the workforce is represented by unions, the city began with letters to union leaders asking them to consider voting to accept this measure.
- The city is examining leases and contracts, including LMPD’s contract with ShotSpotter, that may need to be altered or canceled before July 1 in order to meet the budget gap for fiscal year 2020.
- Parks & Recreation will not open its four outdoor swimming pools this summer and is increasing fees at the Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center. The decision not to open the pools is being made now because this is the time the process of hiring lifeguards would begin.
Mayor Fischer said he and his team also are in the process of meeting with suburban city mayors to discuss Metro assets within their city limits, such as libraries, and how they might manage or help manage the cost of those programs. And he noted that Louisville Tourism’s board has agreed to provide $500,000 to the Belle of Louisville to keep that distinctive attraction operating.
Karen Williams, president & CEO elaborated on that decision: “The Belle of Louisville has been an iconic attraction for the city for decades, providing entertainment for locals and visitors alike. With such a growing momentum in visitation, the Board of Louisville Tourism did not want to lose a treasured asset that could impact family travel options in a lucrative coming tourism season. This funding will ensure that an authentic experience on an historic steamboat is still one of the many options families can enjoy.”
Mayor Fischer also called on other partners, companies and organizations and individuals to support or sponsor external agencies that have relied on Metro funding.
“Think about the work our external agency partners do to help people in our community,” Fischer said, adding that in the face of cuts, “we must be creative in keeping them going,” and “that has to start with community members stepping up and doing the right thing, over and over again.”
City employees and residents urged to share ideas
Also today, Metro Council President David James and Mayor Fischer outlined ways that Metro employees and residents can submit ideas for efficiencies to address the budget shortfall.
Mayor Fischer noted that Metro provides more services today than eight years ago, with about the same number of employees (outside of LMPD), thanks in part to the nationally recognized Office for Performance Improvement and a long-term commitment to using data and innovation to improve services without additional costs. And the city has the fourth lowest employee-to-resident ratio among peer cities.
“Our employees see Metro in action every day and have been an essential piece of making our city the lean, efficient operation it is today,” Fischer said. “We’re looking forward to hearing more of their ideas, and ideas of the people we serve.”
The Council president James agreed: “Our Metro employees are our No. 1 asset. Reaching out to them to find efficiencies and opportunities for reorganization — without fear of reprisals — is very important in this budget process. I look forward to hearing what they have to say and what our citizens have to say.”
The form for employees were sent via email. The form for residents can be accessed at louisvilleky.gov, along with the city’s 2018 Progress Report and 2018-2019 budget materials to guide their suggestions.