Metro Council roundup: Late-night safety, golf courses and taxes on diapers, menstrual products
Following the lead of cities like Providence, R.I., and Nashville, Louisville Metro will soon publish guidance for late-night businesses on how to keep their patrons and the public safe.
Metro Council unanimously approved a resolution, sponsored by Democrats Cassie Chambers Armstrong of District 8 and Council President David James of District 6, directing the city’s economic development agency to compile a list of best practices for bars and clubs within 90 days. The city will deliver the non-binding report to every business with an extended-hours liquor license, and it’s expected to be updated periodically.
Chambers Armstrong, who represents the Highlands, told the council’s Public Safety Committee last month that the resolution came out of conversations that began late last summer between city officials and business owners. At that time, there were three shootings along Bardstown Road in the span of three months, all taking place in the early morning hours.
“After that, we all got together and said, ‘What can we do to learn from each other, learn from other cities and learn from other types of businesses about what we can do to make sure we are putting public safety at the forefront,” she said.
Chambers Armstrong initially floated the idea of temporarily pushing Louisville’s last call up to 2 a.m. from 4 a.m. Although the proposal received the support of Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville Metro Police Chief Erika Shields, many bar and restaurant owners opposed it. Chambers Armstrong eventually backed off the proposal in favor of increasing fines and enforcement against problem bars and putting together the guidance document.
A draft version of the best practices report addresses a range of safety issues, including de-escalating fights, video surveillance and employee training on sexual assault prevention.
New rules for closing golf courses
Council approved a new set of requirements for Metro Parks and Recreation officials and community groups who want to shut down or repurpose any of the city’s 10 municipal golf courses.
The ordinance approved Thursday night, sponsored by District 14 Council Member Cindi Fowler, sets out a new process for closing or repurposing a city-owned course. It requires at least two public meetings, a request for proposals and final approval by a majority of Metro Council members.
Fowler, a Democrat, is a vocal supporter of Louisville’s public golf courses, which have fallen out of profitability in recent years. In an interview with WFPL News last month, Fowler argued it’s a slippery slope from shutting down Cherokee to eliminating all of Louisville’s municipal golf courses.
“Every one of the courses have been in the red, except for three of them,” she said. “You go back 10 years and every one of them are losing money, maybe we should close them all?”
She and other members of the Parks and Sustainability Committee rejected an April proposal by Chambers Armstrong to close Cherokee Golf Course, which is in her district. Leaders from Parks and Recreation supported a plan from the Olmsted Parks Conservancy for Cherokee Park to absorb the bordering golf course.
A Parks and Recreation survey earlier this year showed majority support for the Olmsted plan, with supporters saying the nine-hole course was underutilized and a drain on Louisville’s municipal golf system, which shares profits and losses across courses. Financial statements showed the Cherokee course lost money for nine of the last 10 years, and the city has struggled to find a third-party manager since 2019.
The Parks and Sustainability Committee voted in June not to shutter the golf course. Instead, they removed some qualification requirements for outside managers and reissued a request for bids.
In addition to requiring public meetings, Fowler’s ordinance limits Parks officials from using a course’s pre-2020 profitability numbers as a justification for closure. It also requires the city to request bids for private course managers every five years.
Metro Council asks state to eliminate tax on diapers, menstrual products
Council also voted unanimously in favor of two resolutions calling on the Kentucky General Assembly to exempt diapers and menstrual products such as tampons and pads from the state’s 6% sales tax.
Supporters argued doing so would ease the financial burden on poor women and mothers of buying these necessities. Kentucky is considered a high-poverty state, with more people living below the federal poverty line compared to the national average. Those in favor also said ensuring that women and children are able to change diapers or menstrual products regularly is a health issue.
Louisville state Representative Attica Scott, a Democrat, has introduced bills to eliminate the sales tax on these products since 2018, but other lawmakers have refused to debate the legislation. The General Assembly’s Legislative Research Commission estimated that eliminating taxes on diapers and menstrual products would cost the state nearly $9 million a year in lost tax revenue. Kentucky currently has a $14 billion budget.