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Louisville Metro Council Looking At $10 Million Budget Surplus

city Hall
city Hall

Louisville Metro is running a surplus in the current fiscal year, leading Metro Council members to examine how best to allocate the surplus funds, city officials said on Wednesday.

The city's 2015-2016 budget is expected to have nearly $9.9 million in surplus funds, said council President David Yates, a District 26 Democrat.

This follows a near $18 million surplus from the 2014-2015 budget year.

The council is preparing to boost allocations to several areas of need — including repairs to city facilities and aid to the Healing Place for its drug treatment program expansion — during the mid-year budget adjustment, Yates said.

"It's much better to deal with a surplus than with additional cuts," he said.

Councilwoman Marianne Butler, a District 15 Democrat and the budget committee chair, said nearly $4 million of the surplus is being proposed to further road resurfacing efforts across the city.

She said other allocations include:

  • $1 million to help fuel a renovation and expansion of the St. Matthews Eline Library;
  • $1.3 million to fund repairs to the Louisville Zoo, City Hall and Louisville Metro Police Department division facilities;
  • $500,000 to help propel a capital campaign to expand The Healing Place;
  • $400,000 to the city's SummerWorks youth job placement program;
  • $250,000 to fund efforts of community development non profit group OneWest.

Some remaining surplus money will help repair sidewalks in downtown Louisville and help fund the redevelopment of the Dixie Highway corridor, Butler added.

Butler said it was surprising to see such a substantial surplus come from the current budget for the mid-year adjustment, which is an annual process in which the council may re-calibrate its spending to surpluses or shortfalls. The budget is built before the fiscal year begins based on revenue projections, not actual receipts.

"Sometimes were just moving a little money around or we're having to make cuts, so it's really great that were actually able to make good with a lot of this money," she said.

The allocation of the surplus will receive a first reading before the Metro Council on Thursday. It must then pass through the council's budget committee before going before the full council for final approval.

Butler said she expects no pushback from fellow committee members regarding the allocation of surplus funds.

"It's been a joint, bipartisan effort," she said.

But Councilman Brent Ackerson, a District 26 Democrat, said he plans to push back.

Ackerson has filed an ordinance that would send all of the nearly $10 million to fund improvements to the city's infrastructure — from roads to sidewalks.

He said the city is nearly $120 million behind in paving.

"At some point we have to address the infrastructure deficiencies that we have," he said. "When you under-fund things for too long a period of time the problem gets too large upon you."

He said neglecting repairs to sidewalks and roads would lead to other social programs to bear additional costs in the future.

Yates said while road improvements are absolutely necessary, he hopes investing the city's surplus funds in groups like The Healing Place and OneWest will help leverage more investment from private entities.

"That's what we have to do," Yates said.

In a statement, the president of The Healing Place praised the proposal from the Metro Council to help fund the facilities capital campaign.

"We applaud the decision of the Metro Council in aggressively addressing the problem of addiction in our city," Karyn Hascal said.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.