Metro Council Passes Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Budget
On Tuesday, the Metro Council passed the Operating and Capital Budgets for Fiscal Year 2018-2019. The Budget contains expenditures of approximately $877 million, of which $120 million will be spent on capital projects. The Metro Council’s vote on Tuesday night followed more than 30 hours of budget hearings over the course of the past two months.
Understanding that people expect results, the Republican members of the Metro Council continue to work together and pool their funds to help fix roads and improve parks more quickly. Rather than having small portions of a street paved, members of the caucus work together to save funds and can get more done. In total, Republican members of the Metro Council allocated 89% of all discretionary spending for paving/sidewalks with the remaining 11% going towards park improvements. This spring saw the unveiling of a $1.3 million overhaul of AB Sawyer Park as well as work to connect the Northeast Regional Library to the park. We also have new pickeleball and mini-soccer courts opening at DePres Park and the replacement of a fence and enhancements at a press box at Highview Park all either completed or underway.
The final approved budget made many improvements to the original proposed budget that was sent to the Metro Council in April. This budget includes language changes that will bring about more accountability and transparency to the way in which the Mayor’s Office can spend taxpayer funds and it increases the reporting requirements for taxpayer funded programs to ensure that these programs are creating positive results for our community. The Metro Council also committed additional resources for public safety, tools for addressing drug addiction and critical dollars needed to fix our failing infrastructure. The Metro Council also doubled the efforts to reduce graffiti and started the process to address and replace our currently overcrowded impound lot.
Unfortunately, while there were some successes, this budget failed to take the necessary steps needed to reduce spending on what Councilwoman Leet considers questionable priorities. Rather than focusing on fixing infrastructure such as the construction of a new police headquarters, addressing jail overcrowding or crumbling roads and sidewalks. Instead we saw a nearly $5 million increase to bike infrastructure, and more resources to a youth works program that has seen a decline in participation, as well as $18 million for an indoor track and field complex that doesn’t currently having its total financing secured or even figured out. In an age of increasing pension and health care costs, funding is truly limited, but it is hard to claim that our city is poor when the budget funds some of the programs and projects that are included within this year’s spending priorities.
Public Safety: Replacing the failing Metro Police Headquarters was a top priority for Councilwoman Leet as well as other members of the Metro Council. Unfortunately, they were disappointed when the mayor refused to fund construction of a new headquarters, nor did he assist with giving the Metro Council the information needed for them to move forward with giving our first responders offices that are suitable for working. In an effort to push the administration to move forward on a long-term solution, that doesn’t put either officers or inmates at risk, the budget includes language that will require the administration to present a proposal as well as funding recommendations prior to the start of planning for the fiscal year 2020 budget.
Mental Health and Addiction Services: We know that much of our increase in crime is related to drugs, the Metro Council sought to find proposals for addressing this scourge on our community. Last year we initiated the funding for an innovative program called the Centerstone “Living Room” . This program as well as efforts by the Volunteers of America and Healing Place are helping get results four our community. Ensuring that these organizations and the programs they provide are saving lives and helping our neighbors, friends, family members from ending up arrested, hospitalized or worse – dead from an overdose. This year’s budget builds on these efforts by increasing the funding for the “Living Room” and offering additional help to other drug addiction service projects.
Some Progress made on Deferred Maintenance: Last year the Metro Council increased the mayor’s budget for fixing roads through paving by ensuring $6 million to be used to finally begin to address our paving deficit. This marks the 3rd year in a row in which the Metro Council met our goal of $20 million in paving and puts us on track to address all our paving needs and deferred maintenance needs by the year 2025.
Northeast Regional Library Planning: Construction on the final regional library began last year. The streel structure as well as some of the walls within the library are already completed. The NE Regional Library, which is located off Hurstbourne Parkway just north of the Shelby Campus and adjacent to the NE YMCA, is expected to be completed in the spring of 2019. and will be part of more than $20 million in government investment in the area along Whipps Mill and Ormsby Station Roads. This new regional library will be approximately 40,000 square feet in size and will serve as a meeting space, educational center, and of course, a place for you to check out a book.
District 7 Projects in the 2018-2019 Budget
While Councilwoman Leet ultimately decided she could not support this budget with a “yes” vote, she was still able to secure funding for several important District 7 projects, The highlights are as follows:
- $250,000 – to replace the walkway/ sidewalk along the Ohio River in Cox’s Park
- $80,000 – for the final installment of funding for the Ormsby Lane Sidewalk
- $70,000 – for the paving of Elmwood Avenue
- $75,000 – for the installation of a Right- and Left-Hand Turn Lane on Herr Lane in front of Ballard High School
- $140,000 – for the installation of a right turn lane at Ormsby Lane and Westport Road
For more information on the fiscal year 2019 budget click here or visit louisvilleky.gov.