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Fischer Calls For New Economic Plan In State Of The City

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer delivered his first State of the City address Thursday.

You can read the speech here

Audio MP3

Fischer acknowledged the city’s shortcomings and said Louisville must rise above the second tier: The city has lost thousands of jobs in the last decade; educated residents have moved away; and current graduation rates are below expectations.

Fischer says he wants the Brookings Institution to help craft a new economic development plan—a plan that includes working with nearby cities.

“I’ve spoken with the respected Brookings Institution to work with us to develop a new economic blueprint—a plan that includes Louisville working together with Lexington to grow the I-64 corridor into a super-region, along with the I-65 corridor,” he said, later adding that the consequences for not reaching beyond the city border could be dire.

“We need to look at our geographical cluster—Louisville, Lexington, E-town, Southern Indiana—as a geographic cluster that in 20 years will be viewed as a mega-city by the world. If we don’t have that population mass of 2.5-3 million, we will not be relevant in the view of the world 20 years from now,” said Fischer.

Fischer also acknowledged an $18 million gap in the city budget. While the economy played a role in the shortfall, most of the gap comes from a legal settlement with retired firefighters. Afterward, the mayor said he’s not sure how he will make up for the gap when he drafts the budget for the next fiscal year.

“Well we’re five months away from that right now, so we’ll be diving into that over the next 30 to 60 days and it’s just to early to comment on,” he said. “We’ve got to balance it, obviously, so we will.”

Fischer says he is determined not to raise taxes. The city budget has come up short for the last three years. Cuts in those budgets included layoffs and the sale of city property and equipment.

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Fischer’s State Of The City To Be Delivered Thursday

After three weeks in office, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is putting the finishing touches on his first State of the City address.

He says his remarks will be brief and largely focused on the economy.

“I’ll be giving probably a 10-15 minute overview of the city and some of the challenges I see we should be addressing right now,” he says. “They’re many of the same challenges that I’ve been talking about already—focusing on jobs. That’s what I’ve been putting my attention on these days so we can get the city back to work.”

Fischer says he isn’t planning to announce any grand ambitions for his first term. Rather, he wants to make his priorities for the city clear. He will give the speech around noon on Thursday at a meeting of the Downtown Rotary Club. That’s the traditional venue for the State of the City address.

After the speech, Fischer’s next major address will likely come when he presents the city budget for the next fiscal year in the spring. Fischer has indicated he will begin the budget process early this year, seeking input from the public and the Metro Council before releasing the final draft.