I have been writing about the Mayor’s Recommended 2019-2020 Budget in this space for nearly three months now. First, I reacted to news of the budget gap. Then, I responded with my own plan. When the deal came round again, I replied with a Plan B. Now, this week marks the beginning of more than three dozen Metro Council Budget Committee meetings over the next two months before the Council adopts a final budget on June 25th and I pen a last word on the subject. Today, though, I will share a few thoughts on Mayor Greg Fischer’s final proposed budget cuts totaling $25,530,400 and then move on to discuss our 2019-2020 District 8 Budgets.
In short, I think Mayor Fischer has presented the citizens of Louisville a sound spending plan that protects our financial health, preserves our values and perseveres us with a modern, competitive city government intact. I am concerned about cuts to library hours, arts and social services non-profits, personnel at Metro Animal Services and much more, of course, but I am pleased that Fire Station Engine 20 (1735 Bardstown Road), the Douglass Community Center and the Highlands-Shelby Park Library have been spared their fate. The future of the Cherokee Golf Course remains very much in limbo, however, which is why I’m casting my lot with the Olmsted Parks Conservancy to take over complete maintenance and management of the property if the course closes.
Looking ahead to deliberations, I have questions about expenditures for overtime, LMPD administration (not the Patrol Bureau) and cuts to Urban Services District services, among other things. In fact, I am reversing my earlier position of accepting cuts to solid waste management services. I believe USD ratepayers bear a disproportionate property tax burden based on differences in level of services received within the boundaries of Louisville Metro and the USD and, therefore, the recycling, yard waste and garbage pickup that the USD alone pays for should be maintained. We need a full and formal accounting to understand exactly what the Urban Services District gets (services) and pays for (taxes) – and then, maybe, we need to expand the USD boundaries and quadruple the property tax elsewhere!
The mayor’s budget cuts include $30,000 per council district for Neighborhood Development Funds and $10,000 per council district for operating budgets, which I support to help ease the fiscal crisis. Naturally, however, this impacts our new 2019-2020 NDF, CIF (Capital Infrastructure Funding) and Cost Center (operating) budgets in a variety of ways:
First, participatory budgeting. Currently, Our Money, Our Voice is undergoing final evaluation by a third-party consulting firm. At the same time, the Center for Health Equity – our key technical assistance partner – is developing a sustainability plan (budget, human resources, communication, etc.) to institutionalize PB in Metro budgeting processes. Both reports are expected out mid-summer. Pending findings that we achieved our goals and are capable of repeating the process, both the Department of Public Health & Wellness (where CHE lives) and I are committed to PB. To that end, I am tentatively budgeting the full recommended $100,000 FY20 CIF allocation to participatory budgeting. I say tentatively because not only are we awaiting confirmation of the results but, also, the mayor’s cuts include seven attrited positions and one layoff at CHE. If our project team doesn’t have the capacity to ensure total and complete integrity of the process again, then we’ll have to reallocate the funding.
Second, we are limited to two new big-ticket items as part of the reduced combined NDF and CIF budgets (the funds are fungible, so don’t be confused by me discussing them together): $30,000 for Cherokee Triangle and Bonnycastle neighborhood plans – matching $30,000 total to be funded by the respective neighborhood associations – and $27,500 for a full season (April - November) of the Baxter-Bardstown Anti-Litter Leadership (BBALL) program, which is also contingent on match funding. Three local businesses have expressed interest in some level of available sponsorships (including Title and Supporting) but it’s not too late to request information for your business or philanthropy to support this highly visible and effective production. Please call me at: (502) 574-1108. Because the mayor’s budget doesn’t enact the second city graffiti crew I fought for in 2018-2019, we will continue to pay the Highland Commerce Guild $12,500 for graffiti abatement, as well.
Finally, the reduction of our council district operating budget from $30,000 to $20,000 is no issue because the funds are not fungible and we don’t spend anywhere near $30,000 to run the office. We spent $21,709.04 my first year (FY18), including (in retrospect, an ill-advised) $4,200 for video of our District 8 Advisory Board meetings and $472.86 for an iPad. I’d be shocked if our total office supplies-spend since has topped $100.
We have updated the Participatory Budgeting & District 8 Spending Information page with revised policies, Draft District 8 FY 2020 NDF, CIF and Cost Center Budgets, Historical Spending and more. Please take a look. I welcome any and all feedback.
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Please join me – Upper Highlands neighbors, especially – on Monday, May 13th at 6:00pm for the third in our series of Town-and-Gown Hall Meetings designed to bring our city government and school systems closer together. The meeting will be held at Atherton High School, 3000 Dundee Road. Principal Tom Aberli will be our host. JCPS Board Member Chris Kolb and Upper Highlands Neighborhood Association President Honi Goldman will be our guests and the four of us look forward to discussing with you opportunities to engage students and young people in civic life, as well as all that Atherton has to offer the community outside the classroom. Come get some extra credit.
For breaking news and information, please follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you have a question or comment, please call me at: (502) 574-1108 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org (and copy email@example.com). If you have a service request, please call MetroCall at: 311 or visit MetroCall 311 online. Visit the District 8 Strategic Plan page here.