Local News Next Louisville

Council Holds Second Public Hearing On Budget

By Rick Howlett

The Louisville Metro Council Budget Committee has held the second and final public hearing on Mayor Jerry Abramson’s proposed spending plan for the the next fiscal year.

The committee heard Thursday from representatives of non-profit organizations that provide various services for the community.

Jay Davison of the Healing Place, which helps the homeless deal with substance abuse, says funding for his organization is slashed by $150,000 in the proposed budget, just after it established a new facility for women and children in the Park Hill neighborhood.

“In six months since we opened the facility, women in need have come to us in numbers we never imagined. when we moved to the broadway location to the Park Hill location in November of ’09, we moved 90 women and children. Today we’re serving over 200,” he said.

The proposed budget assumes a slight uptick in revenue, but maintains most of the cuts in the current plan.

The full council will vote on it next Thursday.

Local News Next Louisville

Abramson Spokesperson Joins Fischer Campaign

by Stephanie Crosby

The last day on the job for Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson’s spokesperson Chris Poynter is tomorrow. Poynter says he’s leaving the Abramson administration for a position with democrat Greg Fischer’s mayoral campaign.

“I don’t think there is a current plan to fill my position, I think the duties here at the mayor’s office will be scattered among the existing staff,” says Poynter. “That could change in the future, but I think that’s the plan for now.”

There are only six months remaining in the Abramson administration. The mayor decided not to seek a final term, and will instead run for Lieutenant Governor.

Poynter will serve as Director of Communications for the Fischer campaign, a position in which he says he’ll also oversee policy matters. He starts the new job July 6th.

Local News

New Fairdale Library Proposed in Mayor's Budget

by Stephanie Crosby.

A new library and a library expansion are included in Mayor Jerry Abramson’s budget proposal, to be presented tomorrow afternoon to the Metro Council.

The two-million dollar, brand new library in Fairdale would be built on property adjacent to the existing library. Abramson says it would be paid for with one-million dollar from this year’s capital budget and one-million dollars that was set aside in last year’s budget.

Library Director Craig Buthod says the new Fairdale facility will look almost exactly like the library just constructed in Newburg.

“I expect we’ll have three times as many public computers in the new library that we have here,” says Buthod. “We’ll have at least twice, maybe three times the seating, so more students can come in at the same time. We’ll have more books and we’ll have more audio-visual materials, everything about the library will be upgraded.”

Also included in the mayor’s budget proposal is a one-point-eight million dollar expansion of the Shawnee Library. That money is proposed to come from the federal Community Development Block Grant.

The budget still must be approved by the Metro Council.

Next Louisville State of Affairs

Ask the Mayor

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Ask the Mayor
So, how’s Louisville? What’s been happening? We’ll find out on Tuesday when Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson joins us for his quarterly visit. Our economic news seems mixed, with some new jobs coming to town and some companies laying off workers. A state audit of Metro Government found some issues, some improvements, and prompted the resignation of two employees. Join us on Tuesday to find out what’s been going on in Louisville, and call with your questions.

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Local News

Abramson Responds to City Finances Audit

by Stephanie Crosby

A year-end review of the city of Louisville’s finances to be released this month contains some concerns from the state auditor’s office – but Mayor Jerry Abramson says most of the problems outlined have already been addressed.

He says most of the concerns pointed out included policy issues at Metro Animal Services and the Corrections Department. He says those issues are being dealt with.

One point that surprised him was a complaint over how the city keeps track of money promised to the city by way of grants, but that hasn’t been received yet.

“So we carry that in a way on our books that the auditor feels is incorrect, so there’s a debate over how you do it,” says Abramson. “Nothing’s lost, the funds are there, and we’re going to respond to them accordingly and do what they’ve asked us to do.”

Metro Government was also chided for it’s handling of a 950-thousand dollar forgivable loan to the Cordish Company for Fourth Street Live.

Arts and Humanities In-Depth News Local News

Looking at Possibilities for a Louisville Public Art Plan

This is a story from WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer.

Last month, Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson released a plan for public art [pdf] in the city. It came after nearly 17 months of preparation and $50,000 spent for a consultant who worked with the community to develop it. The plan now goes before the Metro Council for approval, so the community is now looking at how it will work and its prospects.

Here, on Bashford Manor Lane in front of sprawling Wal-Mart parking lot, is some existing public art. Among four benches is a relief sculpture by artist Bob Lockhart. It shows three Kentucky Derby winners from the Bashford Manor Farms, which were torn down in the early 1970s. Some people living nearby say they’ve never seen anyone sit there. One is Anthony Johnson.

“I don’t know why these are out here,” Johnson tells me. “I guess if somebody’s walking or whatever they need to stop or something.”

Under the city’s land code, commercial developers with a project exceeding 100,000 square feet must set aside a percentage of their construction budget for public amenities — like benches and sculptures or even fountains and more. This spot is a result of that requirement.

But a new idea concerning that code came up during meetings between city officials, a public art consultant and developers. And the developers are happy with this idea: to have the option to use the money they are required to spend for such amenities and, instead, contribute it to a public art fund.

That agreement signified a potential benefit for developers and became a linchpin in Louisville’s efforts to formulate a public art plan with funding to preserve the city’s existing public art and help create and care for new art.

But the mayor’s office didn’t want to just satisfy developers. Officials also consulted with many other groups. Mary Lou Northern, the mayor’s senior advisor for cultural affairs, oversaw that process.

“There was an educators group. There was a group of historians. There was a group of artists,” she says.

So far, the result is a 70-page plan [pdf], with three pages dedicated to funding. The rest proposes the public and non-profit bodies that would underpin new public art. Metro Government would hire a public art administrator to work with a new commission. And that group would set up an independent non-profit organization to raise funds, commission art, and consider proposals from other -profits, like arts and neighborhood groups.

The proposed policies have elated local artists including Chris Radtke, who is co-chair of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Public Art and worked on the plan. She says it would give artists a new avenue for their creative ideas — and pay them.

“The artists will come up with things you haven’t even thought of in terms of sites,” Radtke says. “And they’ll come up with projects not even on your radar. And so this allows that to happen. Artists from anywhere can look at Louisville, see a site and think of a project that is really out of their own mind, out of their own creative mind.”

And what would be the use of this public art? Reasons include civic pride, tourism and more. Joyce Ogden is an art professor at Spalding University. She’s worked on public art projects at city parks and the county jail.

“I think it helps us look at our history specifically in Louisville and the various communities and neighborhoods that we have here,” Ogden says.

But what about controversy, which sometimes accompanies public art? Barbara Goldstein has worked as the public art director in Seattle and San José and edited Public Art by the Book.

“If the plan reflects Louisville and it’s something that is reflective of the city’s goals, how the city sees itself and how the community sees itself, and if it’s administered by a group of people responsive to what they plan articulates, then there shouldn’t be a whole heck of a lot of controversy,” Goldstein says.

Still, disagreements about public art are inevitable. Even the histories of the Washington Monument and the Vietnam Memorial include controversy. But Ogden sees that as an advantage.

“It really gives us an opportunity to use art to create dialogue and conversation and address issues,” she says.

And by next year, the city’s plans to start conversations on public art with a series of events where artists present their ideas about public art on the Louisville landscape.

Local News

Small Business Leaders Meet To Talk About Job Creation

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson convened a meeting today of some small business leaders in the city to generate ideas for the federal government on how to create jobs.

About twenty small business leaders attended the meeting to share ideas about job growth in the U.S. Denise Spalding with Allegra Print and Imaging says there seemed to be consensus in the room that they need some assurances from Washington.

“All of the leaders in this room spoke up and said they are willing to spend money and take risks if they knew what was going to happen from the federal government,” says Spalding, “and I think that big question mark, or that big unknown, is tax rates and the health care reform.”

Spalding says she doesn’t want tax incentives for hiring, but thinks tax cuts for small businesses would create more money for hiring.

Jimmy Kirchdorfer of ISCO Industries says few people understand that many small businesses are taxed in the same way as wealthy individuals.

“So when they talk about increasing taxes on individuals – the wealthiest individuals – that’s really increasing taxes on businesses,” says Kirchdorfer, “and I think this administration has vilified businesses and they need to be more business-friendly.”

The recommendations will be delivered to the White House.

Local News

Abramson Shocked at Bridges Lawsuit

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson says a federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. last week could delay work on the $4-billion dollar Ohio River Bridges Project.

The local conservation group River Fields and the National Trust for Historic Preservation filed the suit against the Federal Highway Administration. They claim the federal government violated environmental and transportation laws in the planning of the project.

Abramson says it’s an unexpected hitch in the project.

“To tell you the truth, I was really shocked,” says Abramson. “I mean, there’s been some discussion over the years since the Record of Decision was submitted but it’s been five, six years, and to think this move would take place two days before the statute of limitations had run… I really thought we were beyond this.”

Two months ago, governors from both Kentucky and Indiana joined Abramson in announcing the formation of a bi-state authority to oversee the construction of the bridges.

Local News

Abramson Not Interested in Obama Administration Job

With about two weeks to go before Inauguration Day, rumors have been swirling about Louisville’s mayor angling for a job in the Obama administration.

President-elect Barack Obama announced his selections for his cabinet position before leaving for a holiday vacation in Hawaii. But there are still lower-level positions open and some have wondered if Mayor Jerry Abramson has been contacted about those jobs.

Abramson jokes about his interest…

“I would have considered Secretary of Transportation, but that’s been filled. I would have considered Secretary of Energy, but that’s filled… no. I’m very happy right where I am,” says Abramson.

The mayor says he has not contacted the administration, nor has the administration contacted him about a job.

He jokingly adds, “I think they figured out I was for Hillary Clinton.”

Local News

2008 a Challenging Year for Louisville

Louisville’s mayor says it’s been a tough year for the city – and he expects 2009 may be even tougher.

Louisville was hit by one of the worst snowfalls in decades early in the year, and later experienced the largest power outage in its history, caused by a windstorm on the eve of the Ryder Cup.

Mayor Jerry Abramson says those events, coupled with the economic downturn, made it a difficult year for the city. He’s hopeful a federal stimulus package in 2009 will help create jobs and build infrastructure.

“I think 2009 could be the year when you see a lot of those kinds of investments and jobs being created, and then the silver lining will be that 2010 is next,” says Abramson.

The mayor says he expects more government belt-tightening is on the way in 2009, but hopes the economy will turn around by 2010.