Each member of Louisville's Metro Council currently receives $75,000 annually in Neighborhood Fund Grants to spend on projects within their districts that are in the public interest. Judy Green's recent controversy has caused some to call for the elimination of these grants. But I believe they still serve a valid purpose.
These funds aren't distributed with no oversight. All discretionary spending by council members under $5,000 must be approved by the appropriations committee, and all spending over $5,000 must be approved by the entire Metro Council.
However, once the funds have been spent, an audit of the use of those funds has occurred less often than it should have. But that's a reason to correct the process – not do away with the grants completely.
The Courier Journal has suggested we should put all this money in a pot to be allocated by a Citizen's committee, but aren't our elected officials the very people we chose to make these decisions? I think these grants are important because they allow the people who are in the best position to know their districts to steer public money in directions where it's most needed.
Without proper accountability, these Neighborhood Fund Grants would be a bad idea. But as long as that's covered, I think they represent an effective way of distributing public money wisely and equitably.
I'm Bill Lamb, and that's my…Point of View.