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Mayor: Budget Outlines Support for Public Safety

Thursday May 25, 2006

 Invests in public safety, economic growth and quality of life;
no tax increases or service reductions

Mayor Jerry Abramson today proposed a $730 million spending plan that builds on the city’s progress in the past three years and charts an ambitious course for the future.

“My budget is a blueprint for our future that balances spending for today’s needs with investments that plan ahead for tomorrow,” Abramson said in his budget address to the Louisville Metro Council.

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Abramson’s plan sets out more of the long-term, visionary kind of investments that he championed in the past and are paying off today. He cited the $1 billion, 5,000-job expansion at UPS and downtown investments including a new arena and the Museum Plaza skyscraper as dividends of investments in airport expansion and downtown revitalization that he pushed in the 1980s and 1990s.

“This community has made down payments on our dreams and we’re seeing them pay dividends,” Abramson said. “The budget I’m presenting plans ahead to ensure the special place we call home continues to soar.”

Capital plan takes a longer view
For the first time, the budget includes a long-term approach to funding capital improvements. A five-year capital plan includes such projects as:

  • $17.5 million Phase I of 21st Century Fire plan to modernize the Louisville Fire Department with three new fire stations and 17 new fire trucks;
  • $12.4 million MetroSafe Phase III, purchasing the new radio-communications system for MetroSafe and renovating the former Federal Reserve Building for its headquarters;
  • $5 million for field upgrades, playground equipment and other park improvements;
  • $2.2 million to purchase land for three new regional libraries in suburban areas;
  • $750,000 for purchasing land and beginning construction of a new $4 million animal shelter

Public safety leads budget
Spending on police, fire, EMS and MetroSafe account for more the half of the city’s operating budget.

The mayor’s budget allocates $129.7 million for the Louisville Metro Police Department, the largest share of any city agency. The police budget includes funding to hire and train 50 new officers, accelerate safety vest replacement, expand the firearms training center and implement a surveillance camera pilot project to deter crime in key neighborhoods.

Abramson is recommending $468,000 to purchase state-of-the-art, handheld computers that allow paramedics and EMTs to record medical data and track response in the field.

The mayor’s vision for a City of Parks will continue to progress with $750,000 in improvements at Iroquois Park, $500,000 for design of a River Road recreational corridor and $250,000 for the development of the master plan to turn Riverview Park into an 87-acre southwest version of Waterfront Park under the management of the Waterfront Development Corp.

Other key investments in the mayor’s proposal include:

  • $12 million in roads, streets, sidewalks and other transportation improvements
  • $7.4 million in job attraction, retention and expansion
  • $7.2 million to help people repair, build and purchase affordable homes

The mayor’s budget also invests in youth programs, bicycling improvements, social-service agencies, and cultural and fine arts programs.

Budget balanced with no tax increases, no cuts in services
The mayor’s fiscal year 2006-2007 budget plan is based on city revenue growing by about 3½ percent or $16 million. While revenues are up, so are fixed costs.

A total of $19 million in increases in employee health insurance, pension payments and salary increases outpace revenue growth. In addition, the federal government has reduced funding for police officers in schools, job training, drop-out prevention and domestic violence counseling. Despite this, Abramson’s budget proposal is balanced with no tax increases or service cuts.