Louisville Metro Government ended the 2015-2016 fiscal year with a $6.2 million surplus, and Mayor Greg Fischer proposes spending the bulk of those dollars to battle the spike in gun violence. That includes hiring 28 additional police officers; $2.1 million for targeted violence reduction strategies, such as a new Street Intervention Specialists team; and expansion of the SummerWorks program and graffiti removal efforts.
“We are in the midst of a public health and safety crisis that requires our focused attention and resources,” Mayor Fischer said. “This spending plan targets our resources at both long- and short-term approaches.”
In an ordinance submitted to Metro Council today, the Mayor earmarks $700,000 to bring on the additional officers over the next six months, and $2.1 million for violence reduction, including Louisville Metro Police enforcement efforts, and the city’s Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods’ work addressing prevention, intervention and re-entry.
“With this allocation, we are asking our teams what resources they need to get the job done, and we are providing those resources,” the Mayor said.
For the spending plan to be enacted and the public safety enhancements implemented in early 2017, Metro Council must approve the plan this month.
Council President David Yates said today that, “Public safety continues to be an immediate and primary focus of concern. The Louisville Metro Council supports investing in ways to decrease violence in our community.”
And David James, chairman of the council’s Public Safety Committee, said: “I am very pleased to be working with the Mayor and his administration as we utilize some of our budget surplus funds to work together on enhanced violence reduction efforts.”
The 28 new police officers are in addition to the 122 the city is hiring in the current fiscal year – bringing the total number of recruits to the city’s maximum annual capacity of 150 – the most police officers hired by the city in a single year since city-county merger.
The Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods will coordinate the Street Intervention Specialists team — contractors hired to work directly on the street to disrupt violence. The office’s other efforts range from prevention programs like “Peace Ed;” intervention programs like “Pivot to Peace;” and re-entry efforts like Right Turn and ReImage.
Fischer is also proposing to relocate some LMPD staff to the Metro Employee Wellness Center Building at 400 South First St.
The administration had initially considered moving all of LMPD headquarters but is postponing that move until the next budget cycle. Instead, only those affected by significant plumbing and other issues are being moved now.
“We’ve made the decision to use the surplus to address the most pressing needs, and violence intervention is THE most pressing need,” the Mayor said.
The surplus was realized through improved revenues and professional expense management, Fischer said, reflecting an efficient and effective government.
“We can credit an improved economy and sound departmental stewardship, as well as required accounting adjustments as the city progressed through its routine financial audit for the fiscal year that ended on June 30,” agreed CFO Daniel Frockt. The auditors are still finalizing their work, which will result in the release of the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) in late December.
Here is a summary of the Mayor’s proposed spending of the $6.2 million surplus: