My annual “Derby” column is one of my favorites because I use this space and time to share big ideas. Three years ago, I advocated a total and complete Derby City rebrand. Two years ago, I proposed recruiting Walmart HQ2 to locate here. Last year, I suggested a District 8-specific response to the budget crisis. This year, as coronavirus robs us of the first Saturday in May, stifles economic development and plunges operating revenue way down in the hole, I submit that now is the time to finish merger.
No more subdivision-municipalities. No more suburban fire districts. No more urban service district. No more separate services. No more unequal taxes. One city, indivisible. Because the only way we will get through this – coronavirus; poverty; global warming; everything – is together.
It is not a romantic notion. Size and scale are competitive advantages. Case in point: the Coronavirus Relief Fund signed into law last month provides direct assistance from the U.S. Treasury to 37 American cities having a population of at least 500,000 to recover the additional costs of coronavirus-related expenses. (Unfortunately, this does not include, as of yet, lost revenue.) Louisville is set to receive $134,397,252. But for a lucky break with the county/city funding formula, however, the amount would be more than $26 million less (counting 149,168 fewer people). But for merger in 2003, it would be $0.
The politics of total merger are fraught with difficulty but the economics of fragmentation are impossible. Look no further than the jurisdictional competition to provide emergency medical services or to attract and retain police officers. Listen carefully to this year’s budget hearings. There is a market failure happening here.
As a segregated bi-state blue city in the shadow of a mammoth school district amidst a sea of red states, the communities of Louisville have got to come together and stick together. Divided we fall. United we wobble knock-kneed. Consolidated we will rise!
In the meantime – likely the long meantime – collaboration is key. Take the hopeful recent example of JCPS’s response to the coronavirus crisis with the support of Louisville Metro Government, as told by David Jones, Jr. We should do more of that.
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For the latest news and comprehensive information relating to the local, state and federal government responses to the coronavirus crisis, please visit these websites.
In addition, check out Eight More Miles: the District 8 Podcast to learn from Executive Director Troy Burden of Highlands Community Ministries how to receive $1,000 rent or mortgage assistance and groceries.
Finally, here are some other carefully curated resources:
Small Business Resources COVID-19 (updated regularly)
COVID-19 Response: Community & Agency Actions Taken to Assist Our Most Vulnerable (updated regularly)
Give to and Learn More about the Louisville COVID-19 Fund
Stay Connected and Active with Lift Up Lou
COVID-19 Response: Volunteer Opportunities
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: [email protected] (and copy [email protected]). If you have a service request, please call Metro 311 or visit Metro 311 online. Visit the District 8 Strategic Plan page here.