Louisville Metro Council weighs options on budget surplus - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville Metro Council weighs options on budget surplus

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville Metro council is considering options on how best to spend a near $10 million budget surplus.

The city’s 2015-2016 budget is expected to have an around $9.9 million surplus.

Many Metro Council members support a plan to allocate the money to different areas throughout the city.

“You've got to look at things you can do with it to maximize your dollars,” said district 15 councilwoman (D) Marianne Butler. “This is how we're maximizing our dollars.”

The breakdown of funds is as follows:

  • Nearly $4 million for road repaving (around half of which would go toward neighborhood roads)
  • $1 million for renovations at the St. Matthews Library
  • $500,000 for an expansion at The Healing Place
  • $1.3 million for renovations at the Louisville Zoo, LMPD headquarters and City Hall

The rest of the money would be spent on various non-profits, infrastructure improvements downtown and help to fund the “Dixie Do-Over” project.

However, District 26 Councilman (D) Brent Ackerson disagrees with spreading the money around. He wants to spend all $9.9 million on repaving.

“If you have found money, it shouldn't go towards wants,” Ackerson said. “It should go toward needs.”

He says the most immediate needs are city streets citing a 2013 study that 27 percent of Louisville roads that require “major rehab” at a total cost of over $122 million.

“We've kicked the can on this paving infrastructure problem for way too long,” he said.

An email sent Wednesday from Jeff Brown of Louisville Metro Public Works to Ackerson estimated that in order to maintain roads at the current condition, the city would have to spend $15,648,000 dollars a year. However, the city has only spent that amount or more on repaving once since 2004. In fiscal year 2012, $21.1 million was spent on paving efforts.

“We have to address it now before it gets to the point of being insurmountable,” Ackerson said.

Butler says she hopes the near $4 million extra this year will help.

“With this and with half of it spent on neighborhood roads,” she said. “I think they'll see a lot of work in a lot of areas.”

Butler remains that the plan of the spreading the money out is about getting a return on the city’s investment.

“Who doesn't want to take one dollar and turn it into 4 or one and turn into 17 million?” she asked.

In addition to the $1 million on the St. Matthew Library, the city of St. Matthews is kicking in an additional $3.5 million. The city is also receiving a $17 million state grant for improvements on Dixie Highway. Part of this money, Butler said, will go toward matching that.

Ackerson says he hopes to enlighten other council members on the serious nature of road paving at Thursday’s budget committee meeting at city hall. 

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