The first regular Metro Council meetings of 2019 convened last Thursday (2/7) at 4:00pm. At 1:00pm, Google Fiber called to say it is leaving Louisville and at 3:30 the Mayor revealed $15 million in increased healthcare costs and decreased revenues – coupled with another $10 million in increased pension costs – to preview his FY 2020 budget and a $35 million shortfall. (Pension costs increased $10 million in FY19 and are set to increase $10 million in FY21, FY22 and FY23, as well. So, needless to say, the early 2019 policy picture is fuzzy (and not in a warm, good way).
On Google, I expect the company to restore the streets to an equal or better condition than it found them in, in compliance with city Utility Policy and our franchise agreement – and as chair of the Public Works Committee, I have a venue in which to hold them (and ourselves) accountable.
On the budget gap, my goal naturally is to minimize both loss of service and taxes. There is waste in government. Maybe not $65 million in Louisville Metro Government alone but across the Urban Services District, suburban cities, unincorporated areas, external agency funding, Jefferson County Public Schools and etc. that number wouldn’t surprise me at all. So, now is the time to: a) make it through the proverbial night; and b) reimagine how local government works, from community schools to Merger 3.0, to extract cost synergies. (I’m getting ahead of myself.) On FY20 specifically, though, my objectives are to not overpay, to limit taxpayers' long-term liabilities and avoid disparate impact.
This isn’t the column I thought I’d write when I named The Policy Picture Edition two weeks ago but the budget is an elephant on the 3rd floor of 601 West Jefferson Street. It can’t be overlooked in discussions on any subject. For example, my legislation to create an animal abuse offender registry. The estimated annual cost to develop and host the site is merely $750 but now I have to contend with the notion that departments facing budget cuts can’t accept any new responsibility. It will be a struggle to reject that kind of absolutism but good governing requires it, along with honesty and a commitment to justice. We are down but not tight.
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As mentioned above, in 2019 I serve as chair of the Public Works Committee, as well as the Ad Hoc Committee on Landmarks, and I am also a member of the Health & Education Committee. You can view the Metro Council calendar, committee assignments and more on the District 8 Public Meetings Information page.
In Public Works, the Vendors Ordinance awaits; and throughout the year we’ll be holding special discussions with departments, related agencies and utility providers for continuous education and to recommend courses of action to the Metro Council. Yesterday, we discussed streetlights (which I am determined to modernize) among other topics with LG&E (video here). In Landmarks, as previously described, we’ll be revisiting the Landmarks Ordinance itself.
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