Mayor Fischer on budget cuts

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said a Metro Council member’s claim that he placed a "gag order" on city employees is "ridiculous" and "blown up by the media."

District 7 Councilwoman Paula McCraney told reporters Thursday that she has been stifled in her efforts to talk directly to city workers about their ideas to cut waste and streamline the budget.

“I was told Mayor Fischer's administration told the supervisors to inform their employees not to speak to Metro Council members,” McCraney said.

Fischer said Metro employees can talk to council members about the budget but said they must go through their supervisors to make sure the information they are giving is accurate.

“That's why it goes through the chain of command like any process would take place in any organization,” Fischer told WDRB News.

When told about Fischer's comments, McCraney did not back down. She said several city workers have told her they do not feel free to discuss the budget.

McCraney also pointed to an email to employees from the director of Louisville Metro Animal Services.

"Per the mayor's office, should a council person or one of their staff reach out to you about LMAS operations or LMAS budget, you are required to inform me and an [sic] will handle," Director Ozzy Gibson wrote in the email.

Fischer said city workers are "absolutely" free to talk to council members and added that budget information is available to everyone online.

Fischer said he is putting the finishing touches on a proposal that cuts $35 million from the city’s budget. The cuts were made necessary when Metro Council declined to raise taxes on insurance premiums to cover rising pension costs.

“Look, this is going to be a difficult budget,” Fischer said. “When the council voted for cuts, that's what's going to happen.”

Fischer’s comments came following the graduation ceremony for the latest class of LMPD cadets. Fischer has already cut the summer recruit class as part of his effort to reduce costs.

“There's no question that there will be fewer police officers in the city,” he said.

Another cadet class is already in place and set to graduate this fall.

But LMPD Chief Steve Conrad said there may not be enough new officers to replace those expected to retire or leave the force.

“It is going to be a challenge for us not having that influx of somewhere between 30 and 45 officers to help us continue to do our job,” Conrad said.

Fischer will submit his proposed budget to Metro Council on April 25. The council must approve a final budget by July 1.

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I cover a range of stories for WDRB, but really enjoy tracking what's going on at our State Capitol. I grew up on military bases all over the world, but am a Kentuckian at heart. I'm an EKU alum, and have lived in Louisville for 30 years.