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Fischer Proposes More Spending In Public Safety, Housing In New Louisville Budget

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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's budget proposal includes more spending for transportation, public safety and housing. The mayor presented his proposal on Thursday to the Metro Council.

Fischer's budget proposal totals $873 million, with $560 million from the city’s general revenue fund. The rest will be paid for by federal and state funds, grants and donations.

Here are some of the highlights of Fischer’s budget proposal.

• 30 miles of new bikes lanes in the city. That includes fixing the path along the riverbank at the Portland Warf and Shawnee parks. In total, Fischer wants to invest $13.6 million in roads, sidewalks and bike lanes. The Louisville Loop is allotted about $1 million, which Fischer hopes to leverage into about $3.6 million in federal funds.

• Local parks and community centers are getting about $7.4 million.

• The city also got permission from the state to use half a million dollars from federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding for “low income youth employment.”

• Affordable housing is one of the big ticket items. Fischer wants to make a $12 million investment in 1,500 affordable housing units.

• The Metro Animal Services facility on Manslick Road is also up for some hefty improvements. The building currently sits in a flood prone area. The city will put up $800,000 to match a campaign of $1.6 million in private donations. Last year, the city also pledged $1 million for the shelter.

• In an effort to leverage federal funds for five new zero emission buses, Fischer wants to spend $400,000 on TARC.

• Fischer also wants to spend about $14.5 million to construct a new South Central Regional Library in Okolona.

• Fischer also proposed two big public safety projects. In light of unrest in Baltimore in Ferguson, Fischer proposed spending $2.8 million on body cameras for Louisville Metro Police Department. Louisville’s 911 radio system is also proposed to get a $7.8 million upgrade.

Most of these items represent areas where the city is going to spend more money or at least maintain investments. However, there is a chunk of the budget the city no longer needs to invest as much in, which is also an important aspect of this newly proposed budget.

Fischer said the city doesn’t have to spend more to subsidize indigent care at University Hospital.

“Because of the tremendous success of Kynect and Medicaid expansion, they’ve gone from 25 percent of their patients uninsured to only 5 percent,” Fischer said. “Therefore, we will be able to continue covering the remaining uninsured out of the $5 million appropriation made last year.”

For the same reason, Family Health Centers are cutting spending from $1.5 million to $780,000.

The budget will need to get final approval from the full Metro Council.