What is the current situation?
Mayor Fischer noted that the critical services that Louisvillians rely on – police, fire, 911, EMS, public health, sanitation, roads and sidewalks, parks, libraries, community centers – are funded by the taxes that businesses and their employees pay:
- About 47 percent of the city budget comes from payroll taxes. When businesses cut jobs, as COVID-19 has forced many to do, the number of people earning a paycheck goes down, and city revenue goes down with it.
- About 11 percent of the budget comes from taxes that businesses pay on profits. When the economy is bad and businesses see less profit, that lowers city revenue.
- The city also gets about 10 percent of its revenue from service fees associated with EMS, the Louisville Water Company and the Louisville Zoo, among many other sources.
- A slower economy also slows the appreciation of real estate values, thus reducing property tax revenue – about 25 percent of the city budget.
And none of that accounts for the impact on public-sector partners, like TARC, MSD, Louisville Tourism and the state, the Mayor said, adding that the city also has less cash on hand now because tax filing deadlines were extended to July 15.
Because of all those factors, he said, LMG is projecting $32 million less in revenue for the current fiscal year than the $642 million forecast prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The total general fund revenue for the current fiscal year, which June 30, is $610 million.
The city is forecasting $610 million for the 2020-21 Fiscal Year, which starts July 1.
Drastic cuts to vital services are not immediately required, but without intervention by Congress structural budget challenges will lead to difficult decisions in the near future. LEARN MORE.
Yes, but Congress and the Administration must act.
The question is if the federal government will provide the direct, flexible assistance that states and local governments desperately need to cover revenue shortfalls. LMG has been provided about $134 million in reimbursements for COVID-19 expenses through the federal CARES Act. But as the law is written, the city is not allowed to use any of that funding to cover its dramatic budget shortfalls.
In his budget remarks on April 23, Mayor Fischer said: “Think about it – we are in the middle of a pandemic unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes. Is now the time for cities to cut public health workers? Is now the time for cities to cut police officers, paramedics or emergency management personnel? … Of course not. But that is what we face, right here in Louisville and in every city around the nation, if Congress and the White House do not step up.”
The Mayor urged every Louisvillian to share that message to their U.S. Senators and Representatives:
What is the Mayor’s budget proposal?
Uncertainties make it impossible and irresponsible to make meaningful budget and revenue projections for the coming year.
The Mayor is promposing a “continuation budget” for FY21, which continues the current fiscal year’s funding levels – and assumes the question about federal support is resolved in the coming month or two.
The $621 million general fund budget is comprised of an estimated FY21 revenue estimate of $594.4 million, $7.6 million of non-recurring funding sources, and the use of $19 million in Rainy Day funds.
The $594.4 million revenue estimate is a decrease of 4.7% from last year’s original budget estimate of $623.4 million.
What steps has the city already taken?
Budget conditions have already forced the furlough of 380 Metro public servants, and without external relief and/or stimulus, the city is looking at more furloughs and possible layoffs.
Louisville Metro Govenrment is already in the bottom third of its peer cities in terms of how much money is spent per capita on services.
What will recovery look like?
Build Back Better, Together is Louisville's roadmap for recovery and is focused today on dismantling systematic racism & creating economic growth
Build Back Better, Together will be equal parts planning and doing. The initiative will tackle today’s pressing needs and outline longer-term specific strategies to bring about a more prosperous and just future for all Louisvillians, particularly those residents who are most impacted by these events.
The initiative will seek innovative ideas from residents and community leaders and adapt or accelerate existing government- and community-led projects to tackle challenges presented or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests sparked by the deaths of Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and many others.
The work will be led by a steering committee that will recommend actions that can be taken over the next few months and long-term actions focused on last half of 2020 and beyond. The committee also will oversee seven focus area teams formed around key topics - arts and culture; built and natural environment; economy; education and talent development; health and safety; hospitality, sports and Bourbonism; and social infrastructure and impact.
Everyone is encouraged to participate in one or more of the focus area teams. Click the icons below to learn more about the focus areas. LEARN MORE.