In a newsletter mailed to constituents, Louisville Metro Councilman Brent Ackerson, D-26, warns residents that Mayor Greg Fischer is proposing serious reductions to city services in the 2011-12 fiscal year.
Asking constituents to help set spending priorities in the district, the city lawmaker says deep cuts are unavoidable.
“With the mayor proposing drastic cuts in the city’s budget,” the district newsletter reads (warning:PDF). “Do you have any specific suggestions as to where or what should be cut from the Metro budget?”
Officials have warned that revenue projections show little or no growth as Metro Government faces a $22 million shortfall. Fischer has acknowledged layoffs are being considered, but balked at the suggestion his administration was making “drastic” decision in regards to the city’s budget.
“What’s drastic?” Fischer said when asked about the newsletter. “We got a $22 million gap on a $500 million budget. So we’re going to have to make some changes, but I’m not sure what that means drastic cuts.”
“What is drastic? I mean that’s like saying it’s hot. It’s very subjective,” he says.
The Office of Management and Budget is developing several financial scenarios for the mayor to review and the administration will convene with council members before the proposal is unveiled.
Ackerson says city leaders should be honest with their constituents and that he is being frank because of what he’s seen in previous budget negotiations and proposals.
In 2009, for instance, former Mayor Jerry Abramson laid off 119 Metro employees to fill a smaller gap and political observers expect Fischer will have to make similar decisions.
“I haven’t seen any preliminary proposals, but I see the writing on the wall,” says Ackerson. “For the past two years we’ve talked about budget shortfalls and the end result is during both those years we were able to not cut the budget drastically due to a number of things including attrition in employment. Those factors I don’t’ see on the table this year.”
The mayor’s proposal for the next budget is due to the council in late May.