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Under Budget Pressure, Metro Council Approves Property Tax Hike And Property Dispute Settlement

Pile of Money
Getty Images/Ingram Publishing
Pile of Money

As expected, property taxes will go up for Louisville homeowners this year, following a vote by the Metro Council on Thursday. That decision preceded a vote during the same session that committed the city to paying out a settlement over a bad public property deal.

With Louisville facing increased — and increasing — budget pressures, costs to taxpayers are likely to continue rising. And some Metro Council members are calling for more oversight.

Some of those higher costs will come in the form of moves like the property tax hike, a measure Mayor Greg Fischer's office said his budget depended on to be balanced this year.

That will mean a $2.30 increase for a $100,000 house in Jefferson County, and an additional $3.90 for the same house in the Urban Services District. The change is expected to bring in another crucial $1.2 million for the city this year.

Mayor Greg Fischer accounted for that money in his budget proposal for this fiscal year, which cut more than $25 million compared to what was needed to maintain previous service and staffing levels. He said cuts would have been greater if property taxes weren’t raised to this level. Higher employee pension and healthcare costs drove the budget cuts, and are expected to continue rising in coming years.

But council members remain concerned about the cost of poorly-managed property deals to the city and taxpayers .

In a vote to declare the property at 814 Vine St. in Paristowne Point as surplus, Metro Council cleared the way for the city to pay a $150,000 settlement to a would-be developer of the land, which was previously promised to another group. The funds will come from carryover from the fiscal year 2019 budget of Louisville Forward, the city's economic development agency, which struck the deal.

It’s the latest in a number ofrecent surplus properties that some Council members have criticized as costing the city, either directly through legal action or through lost revenue when properties were sold at discounts.

Councilman Anthony Piagentini (R-19) blamed Louisville Forward for improperly making a deal when there was already a lease for the property in place.

"We need to correct it and we need to take the leadership on oversight related to this department and what they’re doing so we have more visibility and more comfort to defend these decisions to our constituents," he said.

He said the state’s economic development agency is subject to more oversight, and that Louisville Forward should get the same treatment.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.

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