West Louisville leaders protest budget surplus plan - WDRB 41 Louisville News

West Louisville leaders protest budget surplus plan

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- An extra $10 million sounds like a good thing for Metro Louisville, but the money is causing some bad blood with some city leaders.

There is a proposal on the table to spend the money on everything from roads to libraries and treatment centers, but some Louisville ministers say places like Simmons College of Kentucky and other west Louisville projects are being ignored.

"The house is on fire, send your fire truck down here. We need water down here in west Louisville," said Rev. Clay Calloway, with West Louisville Ministers Coalition and West Louisville First. Both organizations are dedicated to improving west Louisville.

It was a packed house at Simmons College of Kentucky Thursday morning.

"When it comes to us, we don't get the surplus, we get the sur-minus," said Rev. Calloway.

The lesson was Metro Louisville's $10 million budget surplus and the lack of proposed funding for the west end.

"We felt that was not only an act of neglect but an act of disrespect to the needs of west Louisville," Calloway said.

The current proposal includes the St. Matthews Library, LMPD headquarters, the healing place and OneWest, a west Louisville nonprofit created to eliminate vacant and abandoned properties.

"See, they got invited to the table for the surplus, and we got the sur-minus, we were not invited to the table!" said Rev. Calloway.

Calloway is part of a group of west Louisville leaders who question giving money to a start up nonprofit.

"Although we applaud one west, it is a new fledgling group that has yet to achieve anything of any concrete substance related to economic development in west Louisville," he said.

One of the proposals from the west Louisville group would be to create an area that would start at 18th and Broadway. It would be called ZULU, which stands for Zenith Urban Louisville United.

"We want to focus on all the resources that could help make that area of concentration the target for economic development and that is the basic target area and concept of ZULU," Rev. Calloway explained.

Meanwhile, Mayor Greg Fischer released a statement saying, "West Louisville has been a focus for my administration since Day 1. From the multi-million dollar FoodPort, to the Wal-Mart on Broadway, to Chef Space and the Choice Neighborhood Initiative in Russell, we have worked with residents, civic, church and business leaders to find ways to not only improve the community but ensure that the people who live and work in west Louisville share in its prosperity. All of this is outlined in our West Louisville Strategies for Success."

What is attractive about the OneWest proposal is this: For every dollar the city provides, OneWest will match it. So a $250,000 commitment creates a $500,000 fund to address what everyone agrees is a serious problem – vacant and abandoned properties creating blight in our neighborhoods.

OneWest has a large, diverse board that includes people who live and work in west Louisville, as well as people from other neighborhoods who believe that for Louisville to be successful, All neighborhoods must be successful.

Metro Council will have a hearing next week to continue the discussion on how the money will be spent.

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