Thursday April 23, 2009
Local Government Must Continue to Get Smaller, Smarter
Facing another year of financial belt-tightening, Mayor Jerry Abramson has asked Louisville Metro Council leaders to provide consensus suggestions for additional budget cuts in the upcoming fiscal 2009-2010 city budget.
Abramson today briefed Council President David Tandy and the leadership of the council’s budget committee on the city’s latest financial situation, which continues to suffer as a result of the national economic recession.
“We must pull together and work as a team to meet this difficult challenge,” Abramson said. “Now isn’t the time to divide along political lines and neighborhood boundaries.”
Abramson cut $20 million in spending from the current year budget after the sagging national economy resulted in sharp decreases in tax revenues. The cutbacks included closing government for four days, freezing city hiring, delaying recruit classes, postponing some capital projects and other measures.
Additional spending cuts above and beyond the $20 million cut earlier this year will be required in next year’s budget with mandated costs rising and revenues flat or, potentially, declining, Abramson said.
“We must continue our efforts to make government smaller and smarter,” Abramson said. “We know we can get through these challenging times because we have made it through tough times before.”
The mayor begins the budget preparation process facing mandated cost increases including rising employee health-insurance premiums, state-mandated pension payments and contractually required pay raises for union employees.
At the same time, the city’s revenues, which are heavily dependent on occupational taxes, are expected to be flat at best as a result of rising unemployment, wage reductions and other employee cost-cutting measures by local companies.
Abramson asked council members to help identify and prioritize additional spending cuts and give him a list of those that have a council consensus by May 11. The Mayor is scheduled to present his budget plan 2 1/2 weeks later on May 28.
Public safety, which accounts for 54 percent of the city’s budget, continues to be the mayor’s top spending priority. Abramson is looking at reorganizing some departments, continuing many of the existing spending reductions and searching for other efficiencies to balance next year’s budget.