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 followed more than 30 hours of hearings over the course of the past two months. The approved budget included changes that brought about more accountability to the way the Mayor’s Office spends taxpayer funds as well as additional resources for public safety, tools for addressing drug addiction and fixes for our failing infrastructure.
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 get more done, such as with paving and park improvements listed earlier in this article.
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. Every dollar of discretionary funds allocated as part of the FY19 Budget went towards capital projects. Nearly $100,000 in funding is being allocated in the FY19 Budget for improvements to the course and clubhouse at Quaile Chase. Another $300,000 has been added to a nearly $1 million construction project at Charlie Vettiner Park. Continued efforts are being made to address the mowing and upkeep of all of our parks.
This budget made many improvements to the original proposed by the mayor. The Metro Council has doubled efforts to reduce graffiti and got answers regarding the next steps on replacing our currently overcrowded impound lot. This budget also added accountability to many of his programs and requires programs to be better monitored to understand if they are actually creating positive results.
Unfortunately, while there were some successes, this budget didn’t reduce spending on questionable priorities such as bike lanes, youth works programs and other pet projects of the Mayor. Rather than focusing on fixing infrastructure such as construction of a new police headquarters, this ights a $10 million indoor track at 18th and Broadway. 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.
District 7 Projects in the 2018-2019 Budget
While Councilwoman Leet ultimately voted no on the budget as a whole, she was able to secure funding for a number of District 7 projects in the approved budget.
- $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
Other Budget Highlights
Public Safety: Replacing the failing Metro Police Headquarters was a top priority for myself as well as other members of the Metro Council. Unfortunately the mayor refused to fund construction of a new headquarters, nor did he assist with giving information needed for the Metro Council to move forward with giving our first responders offices that are suitable for working. In an effort to push the mayor to move forward on a long term solution, that doesn’t put either officers or inmates at risk, we required that a proposal as well as funding be recommended prior to the start of planning for the next fiscal year.
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 added funding for an innovative program called the Centerstone “Living Room” model. This program as well as efforts by the Volunteers of America and Healing Place is helping get results and is slowly saving lives and helping people from ending up either arrested, hospitalized or worse – dead from an overdose. This year’s budget builds on our efforts increasing the funding for the “Living Room” and offering additional help to other drug addiction service projects.
Metro Parks: The Republican members of the Metro Council are proud of our work in previous budgets to fund large investments in many of our parks. 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.
Some Progress made on Deferred Maintenance: Last year the Metro Council increased the mayor’s budget for fixing streets through paving by $6 million 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 of our paving needs and deferred maintenance by the year 2025.
Northeast Regional Library Planning: Construction on the final regional library bagan 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.