Mayor Fischer unveils new city budget with emphasis on public safety
Plan keeps Louisville’s economic momentum going with targeted investments in affordable housing, new Northeast Library, quality of life
Mayor Greg Fischer today proposed a new city budget that focuses heavily on public safety, including significant investments in LMPD, while continuing the city’s momentum, with investments in affordable housing, paving and a new Northeast Regional Library.
The $593 million general fund operating budget anticipates $23 million in new revenue, with the greatest chunk of that – $19 million, or 83 percent – earmarked for LMPD and the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, including 112 new LMPD recruits.
“Public safety is our top priority,” the Mayor said in remarks today to the Metro Council, adding that his budget is evidence of that: “This will bring LMPD’s projected average strength to 1,293 the new fiscal year, the largest number of sworn officers serving our citizens since merger.”
Considering retirements and natural attrition in LMPD, the proposed FY2017-2018 budget will result in 55 net new police department positions since last year’s budget. That includes 44 new officers and 11 other positions, from crime scene technicians to firearms analysts.
The mayor’s budget also includes other public safety investments:
- Hiring an additional prosecutor in the Commonwealth Attorney's office to focus on violent criminals;
- Hiring a new arraignment court prosecutor in the County Attorney's office to work with low-level, non-violent offenders to get cases resolved efficiently, helping reserve limited bed space at Metro Corrections for the most violent offenders;
- Hiring 30 firefighters and 60 corrections officers;
- Spending $4 million on new police cars, ambulances, firetrucks and equipment;
- Funding to move LMPD headquarters, make repairs to the Louisville Fire Department headquarters in Russell and the city’s aging jail; and to relocate the 911 backup center.
Stressing the need to take a holistic approach “to fighting crime, and preventing crime,” the Mayor said his budget includes an increased investment in the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, and its Cure Violence program, and $200,000 to hire additional staff and support in the city’s Office of Addiction Services.
And recognizing that investments in people and places help make the community safer and keep the city’s economic momentum going, the budget also continues a commitment to workforce housing, with $2.5 million to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and $12 million to the Louisville CARES revolving loan fund. That’s the highest level of city funding dedicated to affordable housing since merger.
“Investing in affordable housing is investing in our future. And it is critical to keeping communities safe,” the Mayor said.
Continuing his theme of building on momentum, the Mayor announced that the city, with the help of a state grant, is officially moving forward with construction of the Northeast Regional Library, which will feature 40,000 square feet of space and have a sustainable, eco-friendly and cost-efficient design.
“When this library opens, my administration will have fulfilled our commitment under the Library Master Plan to provide a full-service library within five miles of 90 percent of Louisville residents,” he said.
He also highlighted significant announcements in west Louisville over the last few weeks: the West Louisville YMCA is a go; Passport Health Plan is moving its corporate headquarters to 18th and Broadway; and plans for Waterfront Phase IV are moving forward.
Complementing all that, he said, his budget includes funding to begin the revitalization of Beecher Terrace and Russell. “We’ll use the Choice Neighborhood Grant to leverage more than $200 million in public and private funds to transform Russell into a sustainable, mixed-income community offering citizens of west Louisville quality services and schools, as well as better transportation and job opportunities,” he said.
“Overall, there’s more investment in this part of the city today than we’ve seen in a generation or longer,” he added, “with more to come.”
Other budget highlights:
- $25 million for paving, street improvements and sidewalk repairs, as part of the city’s Move Louisville plan and fix-it first strategy. In addition, there is $500,000 for bike lanes.
- $5.4 million to work with Kentucky Wired to lay extra fiber optic cable in the city, an investment that will pay for itself as the city leases the cable to private internet service providers, and will help bring high speed internet fiber to west Louisville, closing the digital divide.
- $1.7 million for Metro Parks upgrades and maintenance, and funds to continue building the Louisville Loop, implement the Tyler Park master plan, and to build a walking path at Joe Creason Park and a new boat ramp at Shawnee Park.
- $100,000 each for Dare to Care for its food bank.
- $100,000 to implement Imagine Greater Louisville, the community’s arts master plan.
- $600,000 to plant trees.
- A 2 percent raise for non-union employees. (Union employee salaries are set by their contracts.)
The Mayor noted that, “When you look at this budget as a whole, you’ll see that it’s balanced in more ways than one. This budget balances the need to honor our past commitments with the need to invest in our future.”