Thursday January 24, 2013
Mayor delivers State of the City at African-American Heritage Center
Saying that the economy is growing again and that significant changes are ahead, Mayor Greg Fischer delivered his annual State of the City address, proclaiming that Louisville is becoming more nimble, efficient and entrepreneurial. (Read full Mayor report.)
“Our momentum is strong,” he said before nearly 400 members and guests of the Downtown Rotary Club. “We still have challenges, but two years into my administration we have moved our city onto a new path. We are changing the direction of our city.”
With 22,000 new jobs created in the metro area the last two years, an expanding economy, an improved city budget outlook — as well as new bridges and a Southwest Regional Library in the works – Fischer said he was optimistic about where the city is headed.
He delivered his annual address before the Rotary, but move it to a new location, at the African-American Heritage Center. Fischer has pledged to move the traditional State of the City, held for many years downtown, to different areas of Louisville.
Fischer began by noting that in his first two State of the City addresses – the first one delivered just days after his inauguration in 2011 – he had expressed concerns about both the city’s fiscal fitness and its complacency when it came to global competitiveness. He noted that the city has made significant progress on both fronts.
Focusing today’s speech on economic development, the workings of city government itself, and planning for the city’s future, Fischer said the old ways of doing business in Louisville are being replaced with fresh new perspectives.
Among other things, he championed:
, a data-driven management system, which has reduced unscheduled overtime costs by about 18 percent and saved 9,000 “lost time” hours – and about $125,000 in related costs – by instituting a pilot light duty program for injured Public Works employees. “Those are direct savings to all citizens who pay taxes to support city government,” Fischer said.
Innovative approaches to economic development, including identifying the most needed skills in Louisville’s workforce, then creating programs to fill those gaps. He cited the training of computer coders last year and the creation of a retail sales institute as evidence of city government responding to demands of the local market. The city also has assembled nearly 30 acres of land in Western Louisville to market and attract good-paying jobs.
Local Investments for Transformation, or LIFT, a local option sales tax for city government. The Fischer administration has made LIFT a priority in the upcoming state legislative session. “This is the highest level of democracy – people, not politicians, deciding whether to raise revenue,” Fischer said. “It’s about freedom to choose how you want to invest in your community.”
Planning for the future with the 25-year Vision Louisville initiative for the built environment and the creation of a Metro Government strategic plan that sets goals for everything from tree plantings to crime reduction to city government services online.. One major goal is to divert 90 percent of waste from landfills within 30 years, and, as a step toward that, increase recycling by 25 percent in 3 years. Citizens can view the city’s strategic plan at louisvilleky.gov
While the city still faces challenges – such as rapidly growing pension obligations – Fischer said his team is working to address those while planning for a vibrant future.
“My team is focused on changing the direction of this city: the way we plan for the future, the way we run government services, and the way we pursue economic development,” he said.