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Council Prepares For Budget Hearings

The Louisville Metro Council’s Budget Committee will begin its review of Mayor Greg Fischer’s first budget proposal Thursday, and city lawmakers are expected to make changes to the plan.Over the next month, council members will revise the mayor’s $712 million spending plan and hear from Metro Government agencies, beginning with testimony from officials with the Department of Public Health and Wellness.The mayor has discouraged council members from appropriating additional funds, however, Budget Chair Marianne Butler, D-15, says the council could shore up areas Fischer neglected or put more emphasis in departments by moving expenditures around.Overall, she expects a more cooperative process than in year's past."From my experience this time as chair the administration has shared more information and  we have been involved since the beginning," says Butler. "It's been a good given and take thus far and hopefully much smoother over the next three weeks."Council members are expected to ask department directors about controlling and brigning down overtime pay, which Butler says has been extremely high.Councilman Kelly Downard, R-16, who is the vice chair of the budget panel, says lawmakers will also quiz department heads on the direction of their agencies, if their spending priorities need to change and to identify wasteful spending.“The mayor has given us his set of priorities for spending. Now we have to sit back and bring the eight years of experience together on merged government and determine if our priorities are the same as his. I’m sure there will be some differences and that’s just the way the give and take comes,” he says.The health department has been allocated $34.9 million for the next fiscal year, but is still without a permanent director since the departure of Dr. Adewale  Troutman last year.Downard says the future of the department and its leadership will come up at Thursday's hearing, adding Fischer has helped coordinate their questions with departments heads better than his predecessor."Since we started working with the administration very early we are having the ability to let them know what some of our issues are so they can prepare and get ready for us and give us the answer when they get there," says Downard. "That’s a whole lot different that the kind of cat and mouse games we used to play."

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