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Metro Council Passes Budget Adjustments, Welcomes New Members In First Meeting Of 2021

J. Tyler Franklin

The Louisville Metro Council passed mid-year budget adjustments in its first meeting of 2021 on Monday.

Council members passed the changes to capital and operating budgets with broad support. Changes included not providing funding to the Kentucky Science Center, as originally proposed, and shifting more dollars to public works for clean-up efforts.

Final decisions on the budget changes were made late last month in a special meeting, weeks after council members questioned the spending proposal submitted by Mayor Greg Fischer.

Budget chair Bill Hollander (D-9) said federal funding could help cover the need for the Science Center, which took a revenue hit last year as attendance fell due to coronavirus.

New council member Jecorey Arthur (D-4) voted present on the operating budget — because he missed his chance to explain his position — and yes on the capital budget. He said he did not see the council prioritizing Black lives in its budget decisions, despite the reckoning over racial inequality this city faced in 2020.

He contrasted the allocation of $350,000 to hire youth outreach specialists and to fund a violence intervention program with $1 million allocated for city cleanup efforts.

“It forces us to question what good is downtown looking good, if people around it aren't living good?” he said

Arthur was sworn in Monday along with Cassie Chambers Armstrong (D-8). Democrats maintain a supermajority on the council.

In a statement, Fischer thanked council members for their work on the $3.9 million spending plan.

“I’m pleased that we are starting 2021 by tackling some of our challenges with much-needed, immediate improvements to make our city safer, healthier and more equitable,” he said.

Leadership Decisions

Council members unanimously reelected David James (D-6) to serve a fourth one-year term as president.

The majority Democratic caucus reelected Markus Winkler (D-17) chair and chose Keisha Dorsey (D-3) to be vice chair. The minority caucus elected Anthony Piagentini (R-19) chair and Scott Reed (R-16) vice chair.

Council members also recognized David Yates, who represented District 25 since 2011. He resigned his council position Monday and will be representing Kentucky’s 37th District in state senate starting this session.

Yates’ replacement will be chosen by council members following a public application process.

Civilian Review Board Nominations

Council unanimously approved a resolution nominating two citizens each for one-, two- and three-year terms to the newly-formed civilian review board for police oversight.

Louisville has more than once created new oversight boards after police killings of Black people.

Paula McCraney (D-7), an architect of this iteration of the review board, said council chose the six nominees from a group of 75. She said more than 300 individuals were nominated across the city.

“We looked at demographics, we looked at their qualifications, we looked at race,” and selected nominees that offered a combination of characteristics to give Fischer a good group to choose from, McCraney said.

Board members are to be appointed by the mayor and approved by council.

Council nominated Jennifer Green and Mark McCoy for one-year terms, Scott Dickens and Sherlena Watkins for two-year terms and Charles Keyes and Richard Pearson for three-year terms.

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

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