Thursday June 5, 2003
Mayor Jerry Abramson will take the story of merger to a national stage this weekend, addressing the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ spring meeting.
Abramson is the luncheon speaker this Saturday as part of the three-day conference in Denver attended by hundreds of mayors and city leaders from across the country.
“This conference is an important opportunity to tell the story of how we’re making merger work in this community, shining a national spotlight on our successes,” Abramson said. “A week rarely goes by without a call from some city or community looking to learn about our merger experience.”
At the same time, Abramson said the conference gives him the chance to discuss the challenges other communities are facing and get a perspective on different approaches and solutions to common problems.
As mayor of the former city of Louisville from 1985-1998, Abramson was active in the U.S. Conference of Mayors and was president of the organization in 1993-1994. He also received the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Distinguished Public Service Award, which has been given to only 13 others in 50 years.
Abramson’s speech provides an update on merger efforts in the past six months, including his top priority to secure federal funding for an integrated communications system – the MetroSafe Communications Network -- for the different emergency responders in the community. The first Homeland Security appropriation to Kentucky totaled $9 million. Of that amount, Abramson said, Louisville received less than $200,000.
Abramson has earmarked $10 million for the MetroSafe Network, which could cost as much as $50 million.
“The most important new initiative in my budget relates to merger and to changing times – new security challenges in the post 9/11 era,” Abramson says in his address. “As we brought Louisville’s public safety agencies together, it was clear we needed an integrated communications and emergency dispatch network . . . Departments had been buying equipment piecemeal, from radios to mobile display terminals.”
Abramson also makes the point that cities – metropolitan areas – are key economic engines for regions, and by extension, for the country.
“I believe that when our metro economies prosper, our nation prospers,” Abramson says in the speech. “For that reason, our national economic policy needs to address the economic health and competitiveness of metro economies. That’s a crucial message we need to work on spreading – to the public, to federal and state officials.”