After completing his first city budget, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has warned Metro Council and non-profit groups about painful cuts to come. The mayor addressed city lawmakers last week, outlining how his administration filled a $22.5 million shortfall using a number of stopgaps. But in the future, the city faces tough choices as Metro Government expenses outpace revenue and present officials with tough choices on the horizon.
Administration officials have already begun working on the next budget and the mayor’s office projects a built-in deficit of $15 million deficit for fiscal year 2012-2013.
Preparing everyone for painful cuts, Fischer pointed to arts groups, community ministries and other external agencies in particular.
The mayor acknowledge those organizations do important work, but insisted each should come up with alternative funding sources as the city begins reassessing priorities and making fundamental changes.
“Any non-governmental agency that has traditionally relied on Metro support, I’m going to be coming to you to ask how we can work together in a better fashion,” Fischer told lawmakers. “It pains me to tell you this, but if forced to choose next year between funding the police and the fire departments or independent organizations we will choose public safety.”
The Fischer administration has also indicated the beginning of conversations with council members about the use of their discretionary accounts.
“Metro Council, I appreciate your partnership throughout this budget process. We will continue our dialogue,” Fischer said. “And I think you all know as well as I do that we need to keep talking about these funds and the neighborhood development money for next year.”
For the past few months there has been growing scrutiny of the $75,000 in Neighborhood Development Funds and $100,000 in Capital Infrastructure Funds that each member receives.
Some council members and citizens have called for more oversight and cuts to those expenditures, particularly in light of the ethics charges against Councilwoman Judy Green, D-1, who has been accused of misusing the funds.
Fischer made it clear during his address that city lawmakers will need to participate in future sacrifices, giving indication the administration is reviewing possible changes to those discretionary funds that account for $4.5 million annually.