The Louisville Metro Council has hired a consultant to advise lawmakers on how to better use their discretionary funds.
The accounting firm Mountjoy Chilton Medley will be paid close to $10,000 to review policies and recommend how council members can be more transparent and responsible with their office accounts, which have come under heavy scrutiny for the past year due to the scandal involving former Councilwoman Judy Green and other questionable expenditures.
Each lawmaker is allotted $30,000 in office funds, $75,000 in Neighborhood Development Funds and $100,000 in Capitol Infrastructure Funds. Funds from the infrastructure and neighborhood accounts are watched by the appropriations committee, however, there is little oversight with the office accounts that have been spent on gift cards, holiday parties and festivals for constituents.
City lawmakers have differed on the use of discretionary spending along party lines for years, but Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh, D-9, who chairs the government accountability committee, says contracting a firm will eliminate some of the partisanship in the discussion.
“We are political in every way because we are elected officials, but this is one of those opportunities where we can perhaps get 97 percent of the politics out of it by taking the bulk of the recommendations and then having the political conversations about the those few things we disagree on,” she says.
The consultant is being charged with making sure that the current policies are transparent and how to improve accountability, but council Republicans have said the discussion and recommendations should go farther to question whether the council is following a good policy in general.