Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer delivered his first State of the City address Thursday.
Fischer acknowledged the city’s shortcomings and said Louisville must rise above the second tier: The city has lost thousands of jobs in the last decade; educated residents have moved away; and current graduation rates are below expectations.
Fischer says he wants the Brookings Institution to help craft a new economic development plan—a plan that includes working with nearby cities.
“I’ve spoken with the respected Brookings Institution to work with us to develop a new economic blueprint—a plan that includes Louisville working together with Lexington to grow the I-64 corridor into a super-region, along with the I-65 corridor,” he said, later adding that the consequences for not reaching beyond the city border could be dire.
“We need to look at our geographical cluster—Louisville, Lexington, E-town, Southern Indiana—as a geographic cluster that in 20 years will be viewed as a mega-city by the world. If we don’t have that population mass of 2.5-3 million, we will not be relevant in the view of the world 20 years from now,” said Fischer.
Fischer also acknowledged an $18 million gap in the city budget. While the economy played a role in the shortfall, most of the gap comes from a legal settlement with retired firefighters. Afterward, the mayor said he’s not sure how he will make up for the gap when he drafts the budget for the next fiscal year.
“Well we’re five months away from that right now, so we’ll be diving into that over the next 30 to 60 days and it’s just to early to comment on,” he said. “We’ve got to balance it, obviously, so we will.”
Fischer says he is determined not to raise taxes. The city budget has come up short for the last three years. Cuts in those budgets included layoffs and the sale of city property and equipment.