LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — You could probably fill a book with all the memories Kevin Kramer has made at Louisville's Bon Air Library.
"As a little kid growing up, that was always the hardest part for me was I didn't know what to read," Kramer said as he strolled through the warm, friendly library on a chilly Friday afternoon. "As much as I love to read, which book am I going to pick out, right?"
But right now, some of the city's libraries are in the crosshairs of Mayor Greg Fischer as the city stares down growing pension payments, including a $35 million pension invoice for next fiscal year alone. Fischer has said there is a better alternative to the deep cuts to libraries, public safety, fixing potholes, and more: a plan he put on the table to triple a city tax on some insurance premiums from 5 percent to 15 percent.
But Kramer, a Metro Councilman who leads the Republican caucus, said the city can do better.
"What you're saying is there's a way around this pension crisis without cutting public safety and special places like (the library)?" WDRB News' Chad Mills asked Kramer.
"I do think that's true, yes," he said. "That's exactly what I'm saying."
Kramer said he's working with fellow Republicans and even some Democrats on a plan that won't raise taxes.
"We're going to go back and look at the areas where the government has grown over those two years and say, 'Hey, which of these things can we just right away cut out?'" he said.
He said the group will then look at way to roll back the amount of spending, at least for now, by possibly cutting less-effective departments, eliminating some top-level positions and streamlining as much as possible.
"Let's stop borrowing money to give it away. Let's stop raising people's salaries above $100,000. Let's stop creating new departments. Let's stop creating new positions in general. Let's stop increasing the amount of money we're giving away to nonprofit organizations to do things that they're not currently doing today," Kramer said.
"I can look back at what the government was doing two years ago and look at what we're doing today, and we have increased the cost of government by well over the amount of money we're talking about for the pensions."
Kramer said the plan he's working on will likely be released next week.
"We're not there yet. We are approaching it. My goal is to not stop at $35 million," he said. "Probably in less than a week, we'll be coming out and saying, 'Here's this long list of things that we think you can do.'"
He believes those cuts will be enough to pay the city's pension invoice this year. He also said he's 100 percent confident the city can find a good solution to the pension crisis without a tax increase.
Some Democrats aren't as sure. Many of them now say they'd like a hybrid plan that would include some cuts and a smaller tax increase.
Meanwhile, Fischer has said he's not using scare tactics: He's trying to do what's best for the community. He believes creating new revenue is the best way forward.
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