Metro Council reconsiders plan to drain indigent care fund surpl - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Metro Council reconsiders plan to drain indigent care fund surplus

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville Metro Council is backing off a plan to drain excess money from an indigent healthcare fund and instead use it to pave roads.

During discussions of how to spend nearly $10 million in surplus money, some council members suggested spending more on road paving.  The city currently has a road paving deficit of more than $100 million. The initial budget surplus called to spend $5.25 million on road paving efforts.

During a March 10th meeting of Metro Council, Kelly Downard (R-16) proposed an amendment to the budget that would increase money allocated to road paving by about $2 million. That money comes from the Quality and Charity Care Trust, a program designed to pay for indigent care at University of Louisville Hospital. The fund is expected to have a surplus of more than $2 million at the end of the fiscal year.

However, a letter sent from the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office to Metro Council President David Yates says Downard’s amendment and passage of that amendment “is not contractually permissible.”

At Thursday’s Metro Council meeting, Downard backed off from his amendment that was passed two weeks prior.

Instead, he proposed another change that would only take the money out of the Quality and Charity Care Trust if the money became available. According to the county attorney, that can happen in two ways. First, if a new agreement is negotiated that states excess money will be returned at the end of a fiscal year. And second,  if the Trust is terminated.

“This is an endeavor to tell people in our community that paving is important,” Downard said. “We’re searching for opportunities, should they arrive, to put money into paving.”

Brent Ackerson (D-26), who has championed for more money to be spent on paving, said he would not support the change because he felt it was “more than likely” that the money would not ever be there.

“Every year, the way this is set up, the money rolls forward. It’s paid forward, “ said Ackerson, “There won’t ever be a surplus. There won’t ever be any money left over unless the agreement ends.”

A copy of the Trust agreement obtained by WDRB News states the following in regards any surplus that may be available in the fund.

     “if there is a cash balance in the Trust [agreement] at the end of any Trust Year, such balance shall remain in the Trust for use in the next  succeeding Trust Year”

However, the Trust agreement expires on June 30th 2016. There is a section of the agreement that addresses what happens to surplus money at the end of the agreement. It reads as follows:

     “Any balance remaining in the Trust at the termination of the Trust shall be retained for a period of 1 year to provide for the adjustments permitted under [the administration of the Trust]. Thereafter, any remaining balance shall be returned to the Louisville Metro…”

Downard’s amendment ultimately passed on Thursday which put the breakdown of the mid-year budget surplus as follows.

  • $5.25 million goes to road paving (the original plan called for $3.65 million)
  • $1 million for renovations at the St. Matthews Library
  • $500,000 for an expansion at The Healing Place
  • $350,000 for the Louisville Urban League
  • $1,000,000 St. Matthews Library Improvements – matched by the city of St. Matthews for a total of $4.5 million for expansion of the library
  • $400,000 Summer Works Youth Employment Program
  • $500,000 Louisville Zoo for General Repairs
  • $500,000 Dixie Highway TIGER Grant – part of a $17 million grant
  • $500,000 Healing Place Capital Campaign
  • $500,000 Central Business District Sidewalk Repairs – match of a state grant for an overall total of $2 million for repairs
  • $350,000 to the Rebound Project of the Louisville Urban League
  • $500,000 for LMPD Division 2 roof

Mayor Fischer will now have to sign off on the plan to spend the money. He did not sign off on the previous passage by Metro Council two weeks ago. 

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