Mayor Fischer says lack of state funding creates 'very difficult trade-offs' at Louisville's juvenile jail
Mayor Greg Fischer said the city is “taking a look at” whether or not the state needs to take over and run Louisville’s juvenile jail.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Mayor Greg Fischer said the city is “taking a look at” whether or not the state needs to take over and run Louisville’s juvenile jail.
Fischer responded to questions after a WDRB Investigation uncovered problems at the juvenile jail. An independent audit reviewed the jail’s practices, identified its weaknesses and provided recommendations for change.
Fischer said his administration has requested many audits over the years, because he wants “to find out what our gaps are so that we can get better.” And that, he said, applies to the audit completed last year for the juvenile jail.
Fischer said two of the main issues that stuck out to him from the audit included the jail needing a stable work force and the children needing more care, especially mental health care.
He emphasized the city is performing the responsibility of the state of Kentucky by running the juvenile jail. He said Metro Government is reimbursed by the Department of Juvenile Justice for less than half of the cost of running it.
The city and the state made cuts to the LMYDS budget last year. Jail and city leaders are expecting there to be more cuts next year.
“We’re very concerned about state budget cuts,” Fischer said. “That will just make this situation even more critical. It’ll make it more difficult for us to operate in.”
Fischer said the city wants the state to contribute more, but he understands the Department of Juvenile Justice’s budget is “being hammered as well.” He said whether or not the state needs to take over and run the jail is “a critical question” that the city is “taking a look at” right now.
“Obviously, for the city, from a budgetary standpoint, that would be a positive thing for us," Fischer said. "From the standpoint of our local kids being closest to where their homes are, that’s an issue that we’re taking a look at the pros and cons of that right now.”
Fischer said that depending how the pension reform rolls out and how much extra the city will be responsible for contributing will affect not only how much goes toward the LMYDS budget but all other city budgets. There is a potential, he said, that the city will need to contribute an additional $38 million toward the pension reform.
“Until there’s enough funding from the state to take care of the critical issues at YDS – and many other points in our city that I’ve mentioned, health care, housing, etc. – we’re going to continue to have these very, very difficult trade-offs to make,” Fischer said.
When asked why his budget recommendation for fiscal year 2018, which was approved by Metro Council, was nearly $600,000 less than the year before, Fischer responded that the city’s amount depends on how much the state is contributing. For fiscal year 2018, the state proposed a 40 percent cut to its funding for LMYDS.
“We’ve got to have a good partnership with the Metro Council as well, in terms of them recognizing the need for funds,” he said..
During a Budget Committee meeting last year, the jail’s director did not ask council members for anything outside of what Fischer recommended.
The jail leaders are currently preparing their fiscal year 2019 budget proposals for Fischer to review. Those are typically submitted in April, and then Metro Council reviews them in May.
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