Metro Council increases funding for parks, homeless services ahead of final budget vote
Louisville Metro Council members finalized the city’s $1.1 billion budget for 2024, which will receive a final vote Thursday. They approved amendments adding additional funding for parks and infrastructure improvements.
The new spending was mostly covered by a $6.4 million increase in expected revenue next year from property and payroll taxes. But it also came at the cost of eliminating other projects proposed by Mayor Craig Greenberg, including $6 million in subsidies for communities that lack grocery stores. Another $3.5 million, awarded to a planned community grocery store in Smoketown last year, remains in the budget. Council members passed a resolution approving that funding in October.
Members of the council’s Budget Committee approved the changes Tuesday night. Following the vote, Committee Vice Chair Kevin Kramer, a Republican representing District 11, said the proposed budget focuses on “fixing what is broken while continuing to address ongoing struggles” like housing insecurity.
“The council added funds to begin important work on deferred maintenance identified in the Parks for All study, increased our investment in paving to $30 million and focused on addressing homelessness,” Kramer said. “All of this was accomplished without increasing the mayor's proposed borrowing.”
Greenberg said in a statement Wednesday morning that he fully supports the amendments and encouraged the full Metro Council to approve the 2024 spending plan at their next meeting Thursday night. The budget will go into effect on July 1.
What’s in the budget?
The budget proposed by Greenberg in late April was roughly 3.5% larger than the previous year, with a focus on reducing gun violence in Louisville. It included additional funding for the city’s Group Violence Intervention program and the police department budget.
The Louisville Metro Police Department, which officials say is short nearly 300 officers, will get $1 million to ramp up its recruitment by contracting with an outside hiring firm. There’s also money for LMPD to replace aging equipment and expand its community outreach in light of the recent Department of Justice report on widespread officer misconduct.
Greenberg proposed setting aside $15 million for the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund with an additional $2 million allocated for affordable housing preservation. The Budget Committee voted Tuesday to provide an additional $3 million to Goodwill Industries of Kentucky for their planned “opportunity campus” in the Parkland neighborhood. The committee also directed additional dollars to Volunteers of America’s Unity House and homeless outreach outside the Watterson Expressway.
While Greenberg proposed allocating $26 million for road repaving next year, council members decided that wasn’t enough. The Budget Committee added $4 million roadway maintenance and an additional $1 million for alley improvements. They also increased funding for bridge and road repairs by $1.5 million.
Other changes made by the Budget Committee include:
- $4.9 million increase in funding for deferred park maintenance
- $3.1 million in additional funding for Algonquin and Camp Taylor public pool renovations
- $1.6 million funding increase for pavement markings and traffic control improvements
- $90,000 to hire a small business strategist focused on businesses outside the Watterson Expressway
- $200,000 for expanding Goodwill Industries of Kentucky’s “Another Way” program, which provides money and lunch to people experiencing homelessness in exchange for a day’s work
In addition to decreasing funding that would address Louisville’s food deserts, Metro Council members also cut $5 million in proposed funding for the new Downtown Revitalization Fund, from $8 million to $3 million. One of six new positions focused on responding to public records requests was also cut. The positions are part of Greenberg’s attempt to increase transparency and the city’s compliance with the Kentucky Open Records Act.
The Budget Committee also clawed back $5 million that was initially proposed for a new 50,000-square-foot facility run by the St. Stephen Family Life Center in west Louisville. It would have included a new basketball court for Simmons College, an HBCU. The Family Life Center rejected the proposed funding this week, according to the Courier Journal, citing disagreements over stipulations by the city.