Louisville Metro Government is facing a $6 million deficit based on early revenue projections. Mayor Greg Fischer’s budget allocates $504.2 million for the general fund, but despite higher receipts in the first three months of the fiscal year the city has another financial shortfall.
Chief Financial Officer Steve Rowland told the Metro Council’s Budget Committee Thursday that the mayor isn’t introducing any changes to spending at this point, but the mayor’s office will make adjustments if the shortfall grows over the next quarter.
“We believe that you should forecast based on current results and what we think the economy is going to be over the next three quarters and let you know what are best thoughts are. We do think as decision makers you should have the vantage of our best thoughts,” he says.
City revenue is based largely on property taxes, employee earnings, insurance premiums and corporate profits.
Rowland says the administration’s optimistic forecast for the entire fiscal year is flat, but he told lawmakers the mayor’s office will provide the council with quarterly projections.
Among the city’s biggest shortfalls is in property tax collections, which are about $600,000 less than anticipated. The animal services department is also over budget by close to $500,000 and there’s also a chance public works could as well depending on winter storms.
City lawmakers voiced concern that the $6 million shortfall could increase, and peppered Rowland with questions about department expenditures. The chief financial officer told the panel the mayor’s office has already restricted certain costs across several departments during the fiscal year thus far.
Budget Committee Vice-Chair Kelly Downard, R-16, says the projection isn’t that bad, but city leaders need to take a close look at expenditures.
“And I trust you’ve made a good calculation,” he told Rowland. “But it’s not exact. The alarm is—I think my alarm bell—it’s a yellow light, not a red light. And the yellow light says let’s pay some attention here in the next three or four or five months because there could be a problem.”
If necessary, the mayor will make changes to the budget as a result of the deficit and submit a new proposal to the council.