Legislation Takes Aim at Council Spending in Election Years

by Gabe Bullard on April 4, 2011

The Louisville Metro Council is poised to place tighter regulations on the discretionary funds members have to distribute. The increased oversight comes after Councilwoman Judy Green was accused of misusing her district’s funds. But one councilmember says there are other ways discretionary spending can be abused.

Councilman Jon Ackerson says outgoing council members have, in the past, exhausted their $75,000 neighborhood development funds before leaving office, giving the incoming councilmember no money to spend on neighborhood projects until July, when the next fiscal year begins. He’s proposed a measure that would stop incumbents from spending half of their discretionary funds in election years. He says the measure is not related to the allegations against Councilwoman Green. He further says it’s not a response to claims that incumbents have used the funds on projects that improve their image during re-election campaigns.

“I would hope no council member would use public money to get themselves elected or reelected, but this could certainly restrict that” he says. “It wouldn’t eliminate it. But it would restrict it.”

Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh says she’s not sure if she supports the measure, because the regulation may not be necessary.

“The appropriations committee will ask the questions to determine whether or not this really is, ‘I’m going out office to spend all my money so my successor doesn’t have it,’ or, ‘This is something I’ve been planning on for two years and just because I didn’t get reelected doesn’t mean I shouldn’t move forward with it,” she says.

In response to the allegations against Green, Ward-Pugh supports giving the Office of Management and Budget oversight over discretionary spending.

Other council members have suggested that the mayor reduce discretionary funds.

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