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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Lawmakers Differ on Mayor Ignoring Cuts to Council Discretionary Funds

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer will give up his discretionary account to help fill the budget deficit next year, but the Metro Council is split on whether to follow suit.

Each council member is given a total of $205,000 to spend annually, with $75,000 in their Neighborhood Development Fund in addition to a $100,000 Capital Infrastructure Fund and $38,000 in their office accounts.

During last year’s budget address, Fischer warned city lawmakers that they could see their accounts reduced in future budgets to offset growing shortfalls. The mayor’s new spending plan for fiscal year 2012-13, however, makes no reductions to the accounts.

Councilman David Yates, D-25, says residents want to reduce spending, but local representatives should have the ability to appropriate taxpayer money.

“Should all that money be allocated from the mayor’s office or should it be better left, at least some of that money left all the way down to the Metro Council offices where we’re actually out there on the street talking to the neighbors. I think that’s a very good use of that money,” he says.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Yates Praises Funding for Southwest Regional Library

Louisville Metro Councilman David Yates, D-25, is praising Mayor Greg Fischer for making the Southwest Regional Library a top priority in the upcoming 2012-13 fiscal year spending plan.

City funding for the 40,000 square foot project is $9.5 million with another $3.5 million coming from the non-profit Louisville Library Foundation. Fischer is issuing a 20-year bond to pay for the new facility, which will be located in the Valley Station neighborhood.

From Yates’s office:

“This is a great day for the district and everyone in Southwest Jefferson County. We will long remember the day when the new branch opens its doors on Dixie Highway and changes the lives of children and adults in our area. I applaud the Mayor and the Board of the Library Foundation for raising the funds needed. The mayor has been a strong partner in helping get this done.

(SNIP)

I know since 2007, the Metro Council has made building new libraries a priority for our entire city. We have seen new branches at Newburg and Fairdale. There is a newly renovated Shawnee Library. As we move forward with the Southwest Regional Branch, I stand committed to ensure future library projects are built. It is an investment we cannot afford to miss out on.”

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Local News

Metro Council Committee to Consider Landmarks Proposal

Opponents of a proposal to change Louisville’s landmarks ordinance are urging members of a Metro Council committee to reject the measure tomorrow.

Introduced by Councilman David Yates, the proposal would require that a majority of the signatures needed to nominate a property for landmark status come from people who live within a one-mile radius of the site.

It would also give the full council final say over landmarks decisions. Yates says the process needs more council oversight. He points to properties like the Colonial Gardens building in south Louisville, a local landmark that has sat vacant for years.

But opponents of the Yates proposal. like Cherise Williams, say it would deprive many citizens of a voice in the process.

“I do not just only care about where I live. I care about the community as a whole and I’d like to have input on what goes on in my whole city,” she said.

Williams was among about 20 opponents of the proposal who took part in a downtown press conference today.

Martina Kunnecke, president of the group Neighborhood Planning and Preservation, is also opposed to an alternative proposed by Councilman Tom Owen that would expand the petition radius.

“We see no need to entertain compromises to change something that essentially is not broken, so, no, there’s not support here for that,” Kunnecke said.

The measure will be considered by the Metro Council’s Planning and Zoning Committee at 1:30pm Tuesday.

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Local News

Large Turnout for Public Hearing on Louisville’s Landmarks Ordinance

Louisville’s Metro Council will consider public comments received Tuesday from supporters and opponents who staked their positions during a committee hearing on proposed changes to the city’s landmarks ordinance.

The proposal would give the council more control over what becomes a historic landmark and would require at least 51 percent of residents who sign a petition to request a hearing live within a one mile radius of a potential landmark site.

Nearly 20 individuals spoke to the Planning and Zoning, Land Design and Development committee during a public comment period. Many were residents concerned that changing the current landmarks ordinance would result in losing historic structures or districts throughout the county.

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Local News Politics

Hearings Set on Proposed Changes to Landmarks Ordinance

The Louisville Metro Council has scheduled two public hearings on proposed changes to the landmarks ordinance.

Democratic Councilman David Yates is proposing significant changes to the law, which allows citizens to petition the Landmarks Commission for protected status for a building or monument. Preservationists argue that Yates’ amendments favor developers and undermine the system of protecting the city’s history.

The first public hearing will be held March 13 in the Metro Council chambers at City Hall. The second hearing is April 3 at the UAW Local 862 hall on Fern Valley Road.

Anyone who is unable to speak at the hearings will be allowed to submit written testimony for inclusion in the record.

Democratic council members Tina Ward-Pugh and Tom Owen have come out against the legislation.

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Here and Now Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Yates’s Landmark Ordinance Tabled for More Public Input

The Louisville Metro Council Planning and Zoning committee has tabled an amendment to the landmarks ordinance proposed by Councilman David Yates, D-25, which would make significant changes to the city’s land development code.

The current ordinance requires residents to gather at least 200 signatures to petition the Landmarks Commission for protected status for a building or monument. In Yates’s amended version, however, 102 of the signatures would have to come from people who live or own property within a one-mile radius of the proposed historical site.

Further changes would give the council final say on any landmark designations, but preservationists argue the proposed guidelines threaten historic buildings and favor developers.

Yates says the Landmarks Commission does important work, but the council should have more oversight.

“The Landmarks Commission is appointed by the mayor and therefore not held accountable by the constituents. While they do great work, we respect them and we need them…I think there should be oversight and there should also be a forum for constituents and neighborhoods who are affected to be able to voice their concerns to an open body,” he says.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

More Council Members Volunteer for Week-Long Furlough

More members of the Louisville Metro Council are answering a call to participate in Mayor Greg Fischer’s week-long furlough program to help fill the city’s budget shortfall.

Last week, Council President Jim King, D-10, asked fellow members and their staffs to join the voluntary program for all Metro employees making less than $70,000 annually. The cost-saving measure is mandatory for non-union employees above that threshold.

Councilman David James, D-6, was the first to step forward publicly, saying the city’s deficit is a chance for elected officials to make sacrifices in order to avoid layoffs and cuts to city services. Since then council members Barbara Shanklin, D-2, Tina Ward-Pugh, D-9, Vicki Aubrey Welch, D-13, Rick Blackwell, D-12, and David Yates, D-25, have said they will participate as well.

However, those council members differ on whether their legislative aides will also take part in the week-long furlough.

The program would save the city $816 per council member if they reimburse Metro Government for the unpaid days.

Thus far, no council Republicans have publicly said they will volunteer for the mayor’s furlough program, but their caucus spokesman has said GOP members support the plan.

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Local News Next Louisville Politics

Council Members, Dream Team to Unveil New “Welcome to Southwest Louisville” Sign

A handful of Louisville Metro Council members will join the Southwest Dream Team and local business owners to unveil a new “Welcome to Southwest Louisville” banner along Dixie Highway.

On Wednesday, council members Rick Blackwell, D-12, Vicki Aubrey Welch, D-13, Bob Henderson, D-14, and David Yates, D-25,  will present the new sign located at the Michel Tire Company, 10601 Dixie Highwya, which is part of a larger effort to revitalize the area and spur development.

“We want everyone to know community pride is growing in Southwest Louisville,” says Blackwell. “This new sign will welcome those from the Gene Snyder and people south and let them know we are growing and have much to offer.”

In 2009, Dream Team representatives placed their first “Welcome to Southwest Louisville” banner on Jim Vincent’s Body Shop. This new sign will highlight additional attractions in south Louisville neighborhoods such as Mike Lining’s Restaurant, the Jefferson Memorial Forest, the Atlas Machine Company at Riverport and the Southwest Festival.

“The Dream Team is moving forward with its efforts to show all of Metro Louisville that this area is just as vibrant and growing as any other,” says Yates. “This new sign, like the one located at Dixie and the Watterson Expressway highlights some great things about the community.”

Funding for the banner was provided by Blackwell, Welch and Henderson, along with council members Judy Green, D-1, and Mary Woolridge, D-3, whose district represent parts of southwest Louisville.

The new sign will be officially unveiled at noon Wednesday.