Monday October 26, 2020
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Six members of the Louisville Metro Council invite in Louisville to get connected with metro government on Saturday, February 15th during a special community engagement event at the New Republic Bank Foundation YMCA.

They want residents, business owners, children and parents to have the opportunity to experience and learn about the newest edition in West Louisville. At the same time, it’s a way to bring government to the people.

“This new YMCA offers families, and individuals to connect with resources and programs to improve their health all of us grow together, “says Councilwoman Sexton Smith (D4). “With this facility as a background, We, on the Metro Council, hope neighbors will realize Metro Government wants to be part of the effort to grow and make our community stronger. We are here to listen and help.”

“This is a way to introduce this new facility to those in West Louisville who seek to improve their health and wellbeing,” says Councilwoman Keisha Dorsey (D-3). “On Saturday, anyone with a question or concern about any issue can come and talk with Metro Government or a Metro Council member and together we can see what we can do to help.”

Council members Sexton Smith and Dorsey are joined by Jessica Green (D-1), Barbara Shanklin (D-2) Donna Purvis (D-5) and President David James (D-6) in hosting this event.

“It is important for the people of West Louisville to understand we are here to address their problems and concerns,” says President James. “This new YMCA is one way to show long overdue attention is being paid to this area of the city. We want the people who live and work here to come forward and tell us what they need to improve their neighborhoods as we move ahead.”

The new YMCA opened this year at the corner of 17th and West Broadway. The Community Engagement Event will start at 11:00 a.m. and runs through 1:00 p.m. representatives from the following Metro Government agencies will be there to answer your questions:

  • Public Works
  • Codes and Regulations
  • EMS
  • Louisville Metro Police
  • Louisville Fire
  • Louisville Forward
  • Resiliency and Community Services
  • Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods
  • The Human Relations Commission
  • Human Resources
  • Center for Neighborhoods
  • Jefferson County Public Valuation
  • Administrator
  • Census 2020

For more information about the Community Engagement event at the Republic Bank Foundation YMCA, contact Councilwoman Sexton Smith’s office at 574-1104.

During their first Caucus meeting of 2020, the seven Republican members of the Louisville Metro Council’s Minority Caucus unanimously elected Councilman Kevin Kramer (District 11) to the position of Caucus Chair and Councilman Scott Reed (District 16) as Caucus Vice-Chair.

Councilman Kevin Kramer has served in a variety of leadership positions over his tenure on the Metro Council including President (2006) and four years as the Minority Caucus Chair. Councilman Scott Reed will be serving in his first year as Minority Caucus Vice Chair.

Councilman Markus Winkler (D-17) will serve as Democratic Caucus Chair for 2020. The position also carries with it the title of President Pro Tem of the Louisville Metro Council. Councilman Mark Fox (D-13) will serve the Caucus as Vice-Chair.

“I am honored and look forward to working with every member of the Caucus as we face a new year of challenges,” said Winkler. “The people of Metro Louisville should be confident that we are focused on the issues important to them as we keep Louisville a great place to live.”

Winkler was elected to the Metro Council in November 2018. He serves the people of the following suburban cities: Anchorage, Broeck Pointe, Creekside, Fincastle, Hickory Hill, Langdon Place, Lyndon, Manor Creek, Meadow Vale, Rolling Hills, Ten Broeck, Westwood, and Worthington Hills.

In 2019, he was a member of the Metro Council’s Budget, Planning and Zoning and Labor and Economic Development Committees.

“We are a diverse Caucus but I know working together we can solve any issue and problem on the horizon to help make everyone safe in our many communities,” said Councilman Fox. “I look forward to the coming year.”

The Councilman was elected in November of 2018 and represents the areas of Auburndale, Fairdale, Commerce Crossings, Renaissance Business Park, Okolona, Yorktown, Worldport, and includes the largest urban forest in America, the Jefferson Memorial Forest.

In 2018, he served as a member of the Metro Council’s Public Works, Public Safety and Parks and Sustainability Committees.

Photo: Louisville Metro Council

By a unanimous vote, President David James (D-6) has been reelected for a third term as President of the Louisville Metro Council in 2020.

“To my colleagues I want to say thank you to each of you for your vote tonight. Tonight, we continue our commitment to making our city a better place for people we serve,” said President James. “There are many tough issues ahead for us but I am confident that together we will solve those problems as they arise.”

In mapping out the year ahead, the President named these as challenges:

Finding the $14 million to pay for next year’s pension increase

Working with state lawmakers for a Restaurant Tax or other options to offset pension costs
Continued focus on Safety

Advocating for more funding for police recruit classes
Monitoring the new agreement between Metro Louisville and the state Youth Detention Services

David James was elected to the Metro Council in November of 2010. He serves the neighborhoods of Algonquin, California, Limerick, Old Louisville, Park Hill, Russell, St. Joseph, Shelby Park, Smoketown-Jackson, Taylor-Berry, University, and the Central Business District.

He has previously held leadership positions as Democratic Caucus Chair in 2013 and 2015. He has also chaired of the Metro Council’s Public Safety Committee.

Sonya Harward was unanimously elected as the Metro Council Clerk for 2020.

Mayor Greg Fischer and several Metro Council members are proposing changes to the city’s property tax moratorium program that would enhance anti-displacement efforts in neighborhoods experiencing rapid investment.

An amendment filed today would make the Property Assessment and Reassessment Moratorium Program more accessible to homeowners in west Louisville, Smoketown and Shelby Park. The goal is to avoid the displacement that can occur when a neighborhood sees such quick investment that property values rise markedly, which in turn can raise property taxes beyond what current residents can afford and put pressure on existing homeowners to sell.

The moratorium program will work in concert with other anti-displacement measures such as the recently launched Russell Homeowner Repair Program, which provides funding to help Russell homeowners make critical home repairs.

Established in 1983, the moratorium program encourages residential and commercial property owners to make improvements to properties that are at least 25 years old, and in return, their Metro Government and Urban Services District taxes are frozen for five years, even if their property values rise.

The proposed amendment would lower the amount of money that homeowners in west Louisville, Smoketown and Shelby Park would have to spend on such improvements to qualify for a tax moratorium. Under the amendment, homeowners would qualify if their improvement costs equal at least 5 percent of the value of the improvements, based on the latest assessment made by the Jefferson County PVA. For example, the average single-family home in Russell is valued at $36,717, meaning the owner would need to spend at least $1,836 on upgrades and improvements to qualify.

Commercial and residential properties located outside of west Louisville, Smoketown and Shelby Park may also still be eligible for the tax moratorium program.

Those properties are eligible if the improvement costs equal at least 10 percent of the value of the improvements and if the property is in a census tract where at least 50 percent of household incomes are less than 60 percent of the area median income.

The amendment to the moratorium program is possible because of Section 172B of the state Constitution, which governs the ability of local governments to offer a property tax moratorium and limits this action to qualifying repair activity and no more than five years.

Measure is part of a broader effort

Mayor Fischer said the proposed changes – including a waiver of the program’s $40 administrative fee for qualifying low-income owners – represent just one piece of a broader effort by Louisville Metro and its partners to stave off displacement and build wealth among longtime residents.

“We are seeing significant reinvestment in some of these neighborhoods, and we want to be sure that the people who live in these communities, the people who are the soul of these communities, can stay and grow with these communities,” he said.

Colleen Younger, Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator, agreed.

“New investment is good and necessary to stabilize neighborhoods, but an important piece must be to offer protection to current, longtime homeowners who are the heart and soul of these urban neighborhoods and the households that are the most financially fragile and at risk,” she said. “Property values in west Louisville neighborhoods rose for the first time in eight years during the 2019 assessment, and this program will offer some protection as property taxes rise due to fast growth in the target areas.”

The Smoketown and Shelby Park neighborhoods will be reassessed this year. Property owners can challenge their assessment through Jefferson County PVA’s “You have a right to appeal” program, where residents can submit photos and documentation through mail, in person or online. For more information about the program, call (502) 574-6380 or visit jeffersonpva.ky.gov.

Council President David James, who is among five sponsors of the amendment, said, “I’m happy to be a sponsor of this ordinance as we try to fight against gentrification and protect our citizens and neighborhoods.” (See other Council comments in support of the amendment below.)

Other anti-displacement efforts

Additional anti-displacement efforts in Louisville include the Russell Homeowner Repair Program, the Emergency Repair Program, the citywide Down Payment Assistance Program, and additional funding for Russell homebuyers to make repairs.

The Russell Homeowner Repair Program, which launched in 2019, assists existing Russell homeowners in building equity by granting up to $25,000 per unit to help owner-occupants make critical improvements to their homes, using $2.3 million in CBDG funds. The city’s Office of Housing, which administers the CBDG funds, has received more than 90 applications for assistance and is still accepting applications for the program. For more information, visit https://louisvilleky.gov/government/housing/russell-homeownership-incentive-program.

Through its Down Payment Assistance Program, Louisville Metro Government’s Office of Housing gives qualified homebuyers up to 20 percent of the purchase price to help them buy homes in neighborhoods throughout Jefferson County. In addition, the city will grant up to $35,000 to qualified residents buying a home in Russell, in an effort to promote homeownership among Russell residents.

The city also is continuing to work with key partner organizations and residents on additional measures aimed at advancing its anti-displacement work, including consideration of Renter Equity Models to help renters build wealth, and the possible establishment of a Community Land Trust to create permanent affordable homeownership opportunities, among other measures.

Louisville Metro Government’s 2020 legislative priorities include seeking more tools to address blighted, deteriorated, and vacant properties and pursuing funding and policy solutions to meet the growing demands for affordable housing, including a state Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program.

Photo: Louisville Metro Council

Councilwoman Keisha Dorsey (D-3) will officially welcome participants to this year’s University of Louisville Region X Conference on Saturday, November 2nd.

“Louisville is becoming well known for its growing medical fields in the areas of research and health care,” says the Councilwoman, who chairs the Metro Council’s Health and Education Committee. “I look forward to meeting the participants as the Conference looks to enhance minority participation in all medical fields.”

The Region Medical Education Conference (RMEC) brings together the Region X SNMA community to equip pre-medical and medical students with the skills to become “clinically excellent, culturally competent and socially conscious physicians.”

Hosted by the University of Louisville School of Medicine, this year’s theme is “Pushing Forward, Reaching Back.”

The Student National Medical Association (SNMA) was founded in 1964 and is committed to supporting current and future underrepresented minority medical students, addressing the needs of underserved communities, and increasing those numbers.

The conference will highlight the experience of minorities in medicine, both as professionals and patients. Additionally, this year’s conference will include a dedicated pre-medical symposium with hands-on clinical and admissions workshops, a research symposium, networking opportunities, and much more!

Councilwoman Dorsey will offer welcoming remarks as the Conference gets underway at 8:30am on Saturday at 500 S Preston Street.

“The future holds bright promise in all fields of medicine, and I hope those who attend this conference will find their path in careers that will help their community and those in need,” said Dorsey.

To learn more about the Student National Medical Association (SNMA)  https://snma.org/default.aspx.

An evaluation team will soon review 13 bids submitted during a Request For Proposals (RFP) process for the management, operation and maintenance of Louisville’s public golf courses, according to an update provided today to Louisville Metro Council President David James by Chief Financial Officer Daniel Frockt and Parks and Recreation Director Dana Kasler.

Mayor Greg Fischer announced earlier this year the city may be forced to make adjustments to the management, operation and maintenance of the 10 city golf courses as part of a series of cuts necessitated by the state of Kentucky’s pension crisis and a lack of new revenue sources.

On Sept. 13, 2019, the city issued a Request for Proposals (RFP), for management, operation, and maintenance of the courses.

The RFP process closed Oct. 22. The next step is for an evaluation team to review the proposals with a tentative completion date of Nov. 18, 2019. Following subsequent negotiations, the goal is to award a new contract(s) for operations by Dec. 31, 2019.

“We are taking great care to ensure a smooth process during this transition period,” Kasler said. “I am confident the review team will diligently explore the options found within these 13 proposals to help retain municipal golf in the city.”

Louisville Parks and Recreation golf courses are Metro-owned and currently managed independently by PGA professionals whose contracts are up at the end of 2019 – except for Quail Chase, where the contract expires December 31, 2024.

“This RFP process is designed to assist us in making the smartest and most fiscally responsible decisions for the taxpayers of this community,” Frockt said. “We also believe it will lead to more streamlined and improved golf course operations, which in this strained budget climate is critical.”

In the update to the Council president, Frockt and Kasler clarified that records related to the process will be kept confidential until a contract is awarded, under a process established per Kentucky state law to eliminate the potential of undue influence and impropriety on the evaluation team.

Also, no council members will serve on the evaluation upon the recommendation from the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office.

Frockt and Kasler also noted that Metro Government will continue to follow the union contract regarding Louisville Parks and Recreation golf course staff during this transition period. “Therefore,” they wrote, “no Metro Council member or body may bind Metro government into any manner of collective bargaining agreement, side letter revision, or memorandum of understanding (MOU).”

The letter also provided an update on course operations through the end of the year, when most lease agreements expire.

Because the PGA professionals at Shawnee, Crescent Hill and Charlie Vettiner have submitted their resignations, the letter said, Louisville Parks and Recreation, per ordinance, will staff those courses.

Beginning on January 1, 2020, course operations will fall under the new contracts awarded through the RFP process. Those courses not awarded a contract will be operated by Louisville Parks and Recreation.

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