Mayor Fischer thanks city’s frontline workers for their commitment, warns of deep cuts without federal help
Mayor Greg Fischer today called on all Louisvillians to thank frontline city workers for their commitment to keeping the city safe and functioning amid the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis.
“These are the people who do the most necessary city government services – protecting public safety: Police, firefighters, EMS, public transportation, public health nurses, sanitation professionals,” the Mayor said. “Those jobs are important all the time, but they’ve never been more important – or more appreciated – than during this COVID-19 outbreak.”
But without more direct aid from the federal government, Mayor Fischer said the city could be forced to cut services and lay off scores of hardworking city employees. He asked Louisville residents to show their appreciation by contacting members of Congress and the White House to demand more help for America’s cities.
This week, the $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to boost funding to state and local governments and send more direct aid to Americans.
“Making drastic cuts would be a terrible idea under any circumstances but making them in the middle of a public health and an economic crisis is unimaginable,” the Mayor said. “That’s why I’ve joined a bipartisan group of mayors and governors across the nation that has been making the case for weeks – calling for Congress and the president to provide state and local governments across America with the funding and flexibility we need to maintain the critical services our residents and businesses need and deserve.”
Mayor Fischer said that 47 percent of the city’s operating budget comes from payroll taxes, which have been dramatically reduced by record levels of unemployment due to the economic shutdown caused by the virus. In less than three months, Louisville’s city budget picture went from anticipating a $19 million surplus in the current fiscal year to a roughly $27 million deficit.
“And the picture gets worse next year,” the Mayor added. “When you add in the anticipated costs of expanding COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, which are essential to safely reopening and rebuilding our economy, Metro Government will experience estimated losses of $250 million in the next 26 months.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on city budgets across the country.
“Without help, our city and many others will be forced to make horrific cuts to all of our departments and services – and for us, that would have to include public safety because it comprises about 60 percent of our budget,” Mayor Fischer said. “And remember: we’ve spent nine years streamlining Metro Government, building an operation that’s been praised by multiple third parties as a model for being an effective, efficient and accountable city government.”
The Mayor was joined at his media briefing today by leaders of the many unions that represent Louisville Metro Government employees.
“The HEROES Act includes direct funding for fire departments, flexibility for current grant money that has already been allocated for fire departments, and direct funding for state and local governments,” said Brian C. O’Neill, president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 345. “In the midst of this crisis, Louisville Fire responses have only been increasing – more fires, more emergencies – and we need a budget that will protect the Fire Department so that we can continue to protect the community.”
Cliff Kerce, executive director of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 36, said cities across the country “are hemorrhaging” workers as cities cut their budgets during the downturn. “This is a five-alarm fire,” Kerce said. “We have to have Congress act quickly and efficiently.”
John Stovall, president of Teamsters Local 783, said members of his union are the people who pick up your garbage, maintain government facilities, maintain local roads, and take you to the hospital when you’re sick or injured. “It’s a lot of the stuff people take for granted,” Stovall said. “We can’t afford anymore cuts. It’s time for our federal government to step up and help.”
Daniel Johnson, president of Corrections FOP Lodge 77, said the outbreak has placed a major strain on his members. “We love our jobs and want to continue to provide an excellent job,” Johnson said. “Our resources are at risk. Local governments are in dire need of assistance.”
Ryan Nichols, president of Fraternal Order of Police Chapter 614, said federal aid is vital to avoiding further reductions at LMPD. “We are working at manpower levels where we cannot endure anymore cuts,” Nichols said.
Mayor Fischer called the introduction of the HEROES Act “a great first step.”
“We understand that this isn’t easy and there are different points of view on the best path forward,” the Mayor said. “But as a nation, we have to find a way to keep our local governments running and providing essential services so we can reduce the pain of both the health consequences and the economic consequences of this pandemic.”
To see a replay of today’s briefing, go to www.facebook.com/MayorGregFischer.
As of Wednesday, there have been 11 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Louisville, bringing the total to 1,788 with 1,089 recoveries. There has been one additional death since Tuesday. The confirmed Louisville total is 124.
(Note: Today’s confirmed case count is lower than Tuesday’s due to an error in reporting.)
Currently, 56 members of LMPD, Louisville Fire, Metro EMS, Metro Corrections and the Sheriff’s Office are off-duty due to COVID-19:
- 21 are off with positive tests and in self-isolation.
- 26 are off and quarantined due to exposure to someone with a positive test.
- 9 are “screened off” with symptoms and tested, or due to be tested, but have not received test results.
Positive test numbers for first responders/public safety since the incident began:
- 45 positive tests.
- 25 have fully recovered and returned to duty.
Metro Corrections inmate data for May 13:
- 438 inmates have been tested.
- 2 positives.
- 24 tests are pending.
Personal protective equipment donation
Mayor Fischer today thanked the Kentucky Science Center for donating some much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) to help the city’s frontline healthcare warriors.
The Kentucky Science Center donated 5,000 vinyl and nitrile gloves, along with goggles and face masks, to Norton Healthcare.
“A lot of folks in our community have embraced our city value of compassion these last few weeks, especially toward our health care warriors, who are really leading the way by putting themselves in harm’s way every day for our benefit,” the Mayor said. “I want to thank the folks at the Kentucky Science Center for their compassion.”
If you or your organization have the capacity to donate or produce PPE like masks, gloves, and face shields, contact Louisville Metro Government at [email protected].
Thursday tele town hall
Mayor Fischer will host a Facebook Live tele town hall on Thursday morning that focuses on public safety.
To participate, go to www.facebook.com/MayorGregFischer at 10 a.m.