Louisville Metro Council passes 2% LG&E fee increase - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville Metro Council passes 2% LG&E fee increase

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- On Thursday, council members approve a two percent natural gas fee increase that will help pay for more Louisville Metro police officers.

Many WDRB viewers complained an extra $20 a year on their gas bill was too much to pay for extra police in Louisville. And Metro Council members believe they have a cheaper solution in next year’s budget, with no negative impact on public safety.

As part of Mayor Fischer’s 2014-2015 budget, he’s proposing a 3% franchise fee for LG&E with all the money going to public safety.

"It's our job to be thinking ahead, so that we're not reacting to an incident or lack of quality in the community so that all of this happens seamlessly," said Mayor Fischer.

The mayor says his proposal would cost LG&E natural gas customers in Louisville, on average, $20 more a year on their utility bills.

But Metro Council is laying out a smaller plan costing an average of just $12 extra dollars a year.

The increased fee, combined with possibly more city dollars from council, is expected to bring in $3 million dollars.

"One hundred percent of the money we're going to get from LG&E in this franchise fee will be used for enhancements to our public safety," said Metro Council President Jim King.

The money would pay for nearly 100 new police officers and their overtime, a real-time fully staffed crime center, and a prosecutor specializing in heroin and narcotics.

"I think everybody universally supports public safety in this community,” said Metro Council Member Kelly Downard, a sponsor of the proposal. “We know that something happened in March that we have to correct, this is one of the manners in which to pay for that, and that's what we're discussing."

On Thursday, council members say they'll hear from both sides before voting on the proposal. But lowering the mayor's fee doesn't mean they'll skimp on public safety.

"Because we're cutting the fee,” said King, “we're going to have to find the additional funds $1.8 million dollars from another source and our plan right now is to move some capital dollars in operating to do that."

Council members could take a first vote on their plan June 5th.

A final budget vote isn't scheduled until later this month.

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