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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Metro Council’s minority Republican members are asking Democratic budget chair Marianne Butler to resign her post, claiming she failed to forward a list of budget priorities to Mayor Greg Fischer.
The request came about a half-hour after the council’s Democratic caucus issued a press release accusing Republicans of “politicizing” the budget process that began last week.
Republican caucus spokesman Steve Haag said his members had been attempting to resolve the matter privately. Caucus chairman Kevin Kramer asked for Butler to resign on Monday during a meeting with her, Haag said.
“We had no intention of making it public,” Haag said in an interview. “We were trying to work it out and they went and did this.”
At issue is whether Butler submitted the Republicans’ wish list of capital projects to Fischer in time for consideration in the budget. The caucus provided emails on Tuesday that purportedly show that Republicans responded to Butler’s request for project ideas three days before a May 4 deadline.
“Councilwoman Butler initially denied receiving this list, then denied that the request was received on time, and finally denied that the list was intended for the administration," Republicans claim.
Butler and Council President Jim King, a Democrat, were in budget hearings Tuesday afternoon. Tony Hyatt, a Democratic caucus spokesman, declined to comment in detail beyond his members’ press release.
In that statement, Butler said: “Every year I have asked members for a wish list that I compile and work with the Budget Vice Chair, Council President and Council Budget Analyst to see where funds may be found and allocate any funds left for Council discretion as we go through the proposed budget.”
Haag said Republicans can prove that Butler received – and forwarded to the mayor – Republican project lists in the previous three years.
Chris Poynter, a Fischer spokesman, said the mayor didn’t receive the Republican caucus’ wish list, but he defended the mayor’s $63 million capital budget's overall distribution.
For example, Poynter said, once federal funds are removed, the budget plan has $30 million in projects -- $25 million of which include public safety and other community-wide improvements.
“That benefits everyone no matter where you live,” he said.
According to Republicans’ analysis of the spending plan, Fischer included no projects for roughly 300,000 residents of Metro Louisville – in largely Republican, eastern districts.
The Republican list of projects purportedly sent to Butler included parking lot, roadway, lighting and other improvements to A.B. Sawyer Park in Lyndon; upgrading the BMX track at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park in eastern Jefferson County; and improvements to McNeely Lake, Highview and Charlie Vettiner parks.