Monday September 8, 2003
Mayor Jerry Abramson today announced that he is earmarking an additional $8 million toward the creation of the MetroSafe Emergency Communications System that will link police, fire, EMS and other emergency responders throughout Louisville Metro.
The additional dollars are a one-time dividend resulting from refinancing the revenue bonds that helped finance the expansion of the Kentucky International Convention Center. Louisville Metro Government owns $5.3 million of the bonds.
With the additional money, Abramson will have earmarked $18 million toward the creation of the MetroSafe System, a communications network that could cost $50 million or more.
“Safety and security is our community’s top priority,” Abramson said. “We must invest as much of our limited resources as possible to help ensure our citizens are well protected.”
Abramson said the investment of local dollars should demonstrate Louisville’s commitment to homeland security and help leverage additional funds from the federal government. Abramson said he continues to work closely with the state Congressional delegation – particularly Reps. Anne Northup and Hal Rogers and Sen. Jim Bunning – to secure federal dollars for the initiative.
“Our colleagues in Washington are working diligently to secure federal funding for this critical initiative,” Abramson said. “Our hope is that a demonstration of our local commitment will help us secure some of the critical federal funds necessary to make MetroSafe a reality.”
In May as part of the Louisville Metro Government budget process, Abramson earmarked $10 million toward the creation of the integrated emergency communications and response system. The money came from Louisville Metro Government’s Enhanced 911 account. That account, established by state law in 1996, is collected through a monthly surcharge on telephone bills.
The additional $8 million announced by Abramson today will come from refinancing the convention center expansion bonds. The Greater Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau issued about $50 million in bonds to help finance the expansion.
However, because of a downturn in the national economy and lower interest rates, the convention bureau is planning to refinance the bonds before the end of the year.
Louisville Metro Government must authorize the convention bureau’s action, and an ordinance authorizing the sale will get a first reading at Thursday’s Metro Council meeting. When the bonds are recalled later this year, Louisville Metro Government will receive an early repayment of the principal and interest totaling about $8 million.
The MetroSafe Communications System will link all emergency response agencies in Louisville Metro, including police, fire, EMS, the Health Department and local hospitals. Currently, these emergency responders use different communications systems and frequencies that do not allow them to easily communicate with each other.
“We’re the 16th largest community in America, at the crossroads of three major interstates, with major shipping and logistics centers in the heart of our community,” Abramson said. “In the aftermath of 9-11, the ability of emergency responders to communicate in a seamless and effective fashion is crucial.”