by Gabe Bullard
The Louisville Metro Council’s budget review process continues this week as public safety departments come before the Budget Committee.
Committee vice chair Kelly Downard says it’s unlikely the budgets for those departments will be changed in the next fiscal year, but the hearings will give the council a better idea of how most of the budget is spent. Downard says the area most ripe for change in the mayor’s budget proposal is in the allocations to external arts and social services agencies.
“It’s a fair game question that we have every year,” he says. “My opinion is that the external agencies very efficiently perform duties that the city government would probably have to perform otherwise, and they do it a lot cheaper and a lot more efficiently.”
The committee heard from the external agencies last week. Downard says there have been light discussions about possible changes to the budget, but those will pick up next week.
Downard says one concern he has about the spending plan is that it relies in part on unsecured revenue. For instance, the proposal includes $1.5 million in revenue from fees on burglar alarms, though a law imposing such fees does not yet exist.
“When the question was asked, the answer was, ‘If you don’t approve the burglar alarm fee later on, after the budget, then you’ll have to reduce the budget, find a million and a half dollars to cut out of the budget.’ I think that’s a little backwards way to do things,” he says.
Another public hearing on the budget is planned for Monday the 14th. The full council is expected to vote on a budget on June 24th.