The Metro Council received Mayor Greg Fischer’s FY19 Budget proposal at the April 26, 2018 Meeting of the Metro Council. The Mayor used his speech as an opportunity to update the council on his capital and operating plans for the next fiscal year. The budget he presented was balanced and offered no new or additional taxes. The budget represents $624 million in General Fund dollars, which is an increase of 3.4% in revenues budgeted in the previous fiscal year. The entire Metro budget contains expenditures of $874 million when you include State, Federal and Bonds.
Mayor’s Highlighted Budget Items
$18,200,000 for paving streets and street improvements
$10,000,000 for an indoor track at Heritage West
$10,000,000 for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund
$2,000,000 for Louisville Cares – Low Cost Housing Initiative
$6,000,000 for completion of a new Metro Animal Shelter (off Newburg Rd)
$ 3,850,000 to complete NE Regional Library (located off Ormsby Station)
$2,000,000 for Bike lanes
$600,000 for Planting Trees
Initial Thoughts: Over the past four budgets the Metro Council has focused on adding more funding to address our failing infrastructure, with a particular emphasis on paving. In that time we have increased funding for roads from under $5 million to more than $20 million annually. For the first time, Mayor Fischer has included an almost sufficient amount of funding in the budget to address our paving deficit. This action will mean that the Metro Council will be nearly 50% of the way to meeting our goal of addressing all of our paving needs within our set timeline of 10 years.
Expenses: The need to finally address the vastly underfunded pensions of state and local government employees was a hot topic in Frankfort. To fully fund Metro Employee pensions, Metro will need to allocate approximately $39 million more annually. To prevent governments from having to make massive cuts, the General Assembly passed language that will allow for the gradual increase in pension payments in consecutive years. Instead of having to make a payment in FY19 of $39 million, the amount required now will be $9.4 million. This cost, as well as an unexpected increase in employee health insurance of $9.6 million has used up much of the new revenue expected this year. The remaining funds are being allocated to cover such items as additional personnel costs and other services that are already part of the Metro budget.
Traffic and Road Improvements: Understanding that growth continued to bring more cars into our neighborhoods and along corridors such as Westport, Brownsboro, Shelbyville and Bardstown Roads we have sought and received support for a number of important projects that will help address traffic congestion as well as plan for future population growth. Funding for additional traffic light synchronization, new mechanized traffic lights, and additional turning lanes and other improvements are all part of the FY19 Budget.
Upcoming Budget Hearings: The Council has received approximately 400 pages of budget information. This information will be followed by even more pages of spreadsheets and detail that will be delivered as we work our way through the dozens of hours of hearings scheduled over the next two months. There is much to celebrate in the budget, but there are plenty of questions.
In the coming months we will review the plans to spend your tax dollars on everything from trash collection, paving and health initiatives to less necessary items such as indoor track facilities, bike lanes and art programs. This isn’t to say that each doesn’t have a role in the upcoming budget, only that it will be the job of the Metro Council to prioritize these projects as well as inserting other initiatives or ideas that are presented as we work to address the needs of the community.
If you are interested in reviewing the proposed budget, please use the following link: https://louisvilleky.gov/sites/default/files/management_budget/2018-2019_recommended_executive_budget.pdf
Each meeting will be televised live on Metro TV and streamed online. To see the full Budget hearing schedule please use the following link: https://louisvilleky.gov/sites/default/files/metro_council/pdf_files/fy19_budget_hearing_schedule.pdf
Thank you for your interest in the budget process . I encourage you to continue to follow our progress by watching some of the hearings on Metro TV.