No More Business As Usual
No matter your zip code, we all want whole, thriving communities. Governor Bevin’s recent changes to Kentucky’s pension system have created budget shortfalls in communities across the commonwealth, including here in Louisville. Last month, Mayor Fischer announced a $65 million dollar hole in Louisville’s budget with $35 million due this year. Both the Mayor and Budget Committee Chairman Bill Hollander have acknowledged to WDRB that there are non-pension related items totaling $15 million in the $35 million budget hole estimate.
Mayor Fischer then proposed a tax increase that was rejected.
The people have spoken. We understand the pain of financial distress that ordinary people are feeling that resulted in the rejection of any additional taxes at a recent Metro Council meeting. The city’s budget cannot and should not be balanced on the backs of poor or working-class people.
The people are tired of business as usual at city hall. The people know about the lopsided sweetheart deals known as public private partnerships. For example – the deal given to the University of Louisville Athletic Association in regards to YUM Center, the $139 million dollars given to the Omni Hotel, the deal that allows the city to temporarily own the property known as Churchill Downs so that Churchill Downs can avoid paying the equivalent of property taxes at the normal amount. Sweetheart deals given to apartment complex developers who promise to deliver affordable rental units, don’t deliver, but yet are allowed to keep unearned benefits.
The people look at these sweetheart deals and know there is bound to be $65 million dollars in there somewhere to meet the new pension requirements.
The actual year-to-year pension increase, $10 million, would amount to about 1.6 percent of the city’s tax revenue, according to WDRB’s projections. So, then why the harsh and punitive tactics coming out of the Mayor’s office? On Friday April 5, 2019 the Mayor’s press office announced – canceling LMPD recruit classes, changes to city employee health insurance benefits, elimination of cost of living increases, and closing the outdoor swimming pools. The people are going to get tired of these public relations stunts. It makes one think that the Metro Council and by extension the people are being punished for not doing what they were told. It makes one think the insurance tax increase was designed to maintain business as usual at city hall.
Business as usual means making sure there is enough money in the till for glossy public private partnerships that benefit very few people. We don’t believe that the Metro Council deserves to be punished because they have chosen to examine a situation and move in a different direction. We do not accept business as usual. We call on the city to take bold action to address this budget challenge by following the principles of compassion and equity.
We suggest that every sweetheart deal, known as public private partnerships, be reevaluated and if necessary, renegotiated. We believe cuts or privatization of city functions should not be discussed until existing and proposed public private partnerships are examined. If there are cuts deemed necessary after these deals are re-examined, the cuts should be done thoughtfully and with full public input, not as part of a scare campaign. The people demand that the time of business as usual at city hall come to an end.
Connor Allen, Judi Jennings, Anastasia Kaufmann, K.A. Owens, Steven Schweinhart
Economic Justice Workteam
Jefferson County Chapter of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth
Reposted from http://kftc.org/blog/kftc-members-speak-out-about-louisville-metro-budget-crisis