Jefferson County Attorney furloughs employees to bolster Louisville Metro budget

May 5, 2020
LOUISVILLE–Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell is implementing furloughs for at least 47 employees to alleviate budget shortfalls for Louisville Metro Government between now and the end of the city’s fiscal year on June 30.
 
Ten employees are fully furloughed, effective yesterday, through at least May 31 as the Kentucky Supreme Court has ordered limited court operations throughout the state due to COVID-19. Another 37 employees, including attorneys in the Civil Division and O’Connell’s administrative team, will take a one-week furlough between now and June 30.
Louisville Metro Government is projecting a $46 million loss in General Fund revenue for the current fiscal year, which ends in less than two months, due to a dramatic decline in business and occupational taxes and other receipts during the COVID-19 crisis.
 
“Louisville must receive additional direct relief from the federal government with enough flexibility to meet the needs of this emergency,” O’Connell said. “Public safety is Louisville Metro’s top expenditure and without additional support we will not only struggle to maintain our police, fire, EMS and public health efforts but also the support systems behind these agencies and those working to hold violent offenders accountable.”
 
“These are the most trying times the people of Jefferson County have faced in my lifetime,” O’Connell said. “Now that we have withstood the initial wave of the pandemic and the legal needs brought on by it, I thought it was important that my office take these proactive steps. We expect the court system to be overloaded once things begin to reopen, so this is my office’s chance now to do its part for Louisville Metro.”
 
In addition to their prosecutorial duties, County Attorneys serve as the legal adviser to county governments. The challenges from COVID-19 has led to increased legal needs across Louisville Metro, most notably from the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness (LMPHW). The County Attorney’s office has both worked with LMPHW to seek quarantine orders for noncompliant individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and to enforce such orders. O’Connell and his Assistant County Attorneys have also worked on new initiatives, including the agreed release of more than 150 nonviolent inmates from Louisville Metro Corrections to lessen the spread of the disease; drafting of executive orders for Mayor Greg Fischer; bond preparation to bring in new revenue to support the city’s budget; contract review for technology services as more of the city’s workforce is working from home; and helping comply with Open Meeting laws as Metro Council has shifted its work online.
 
“These furloughs are a hardship for our staff members, but their sacrifice is for the continued health of our operation and that of Louisville Metro,” O’Connell said. “I hope others recognize my staff’s contributions to our city and to public safety in the same way that I know I do.”