Metro Council members spar over $10 million surplus - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Metro Council members spar over $10 million surplus

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Members of the Louisville Metro Council Budget Committee voted Thursday to delay a vote that would have spread nearly $10 million in budget surplus to different areas. 

The move sponsored by District 15 Councilwoman and Budget Committee chairperson Marianne Butler would have split the money in the following ways: 

  • 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.

“You've got to look at things you can do with it to maximize your dollars,” Butler told WDRB in an interview Wednesday. “This is how we're maximizing our dollars.”

Butler said along with the $1 million the city would be putting up for the St. Matthews library, the city of St. Matthews would also be kicking in $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.

However, with a late push this week District 26 Councilman (D) Brent Ackerson is rallying Budget Committee members behind a plan that would see all of the $9.9 million of surplus money go toward one cause. 

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

Ackerson says the entirety of the surplus should be spent on paving roads in Metro Louisville, particularly those which need it the most. 

A memo 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.

During the Budget Committee meeting Butler said helping The Healing Place expand was of the utmost important for citizens. 

"This is a huge issue in our community," Butler said. "There's a rise in property crime and there's a direct correlation to substance abuse associated with that."

Butler said part of the problem with allocating nearly $10 million to Public Works for paving is there are not enough workers to complete the task that would be given to the department. She claims the Ohio River Bridges project is using up too many contractors.

Ackerson immediately claimed that a Public Works official told him the department could handle more work. 

Throughout the week, Ackerson has cited a 2013 study that said 27 percent of Louisville roads that require “major rehab” at a total cost of over $122 million.

Chris Poynter, a spokesperson for Mayor Greg Fischer, said in an email Wednesday that the mayor supports Butler's version of how to spend the money. 

Ackerson said repeatedly at the meeting that he was not attacking The Healing Place or any other organization, instead he said it was an attack on the process. He feels that any organization should be allotted through the normal budgeting process that takes place in June every year. 

This year's current budget allocates around $13 million for paving efforts. 

The often contentious meeting ended when members voted 6-3 to table Butler's version of how best to spend the money.

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