Mayor Greg Fischer today helped cut the ribbon on a second Wellness Center for Louisville Metro Government employees and their dependents. The center, located at 6127 Airport Hotels Blvd. off Fern Valley Road, is managed by Concentra and provides annual physicals, urgent care and primary care needs to employees with Louisville Metro Government insurance. Additionally, the new center offers access to a dietician, x-ray and physical therapy services.
The center is designed to help the city, and taxpayers, save money on health care costs.
“Our core city values of health, lifelong learning and compassion come together at our Metro Employee Wellness Centers,” said Mayor Fischer. “Helping our employees take care of themselves and their families helps us run a more efficient operation and maximizes the investment of our taxpayers.”
More than 160 Metro employees and dependents have received care from medical professionals since the new center opened in mid-December 2019.
The first Employee Wellness Center, managed by Concentra, opened downtown at the corner of First and Liberty streets in October 2013.
For more information, visit https://louisvilleky.gov/government/human-resources/metro-employee-wellness-center-information
Mayor Greg Fischer and other community leaders today announced the opening of free federal and state income tax preparation for eligible residents.
The Louisville Asset Building Coalition’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, and AARP Tax Aide programs provide trained, IRS-certified volunteers to offer free tax services at 19 sites across the city. The service is available to individuals and families who earned less than $66,000 in 2019.
VITA and AARP volunteers will also help determine if residents are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable federal tax credit for low- and middle-income working individuals and families. Eligibility for the EITC is based on income, the number of family members and other criteria, such as the amount of a family’s credit. Working families who earn up to $55,952 may be eligible, with average credits last year nearly $2,500.
“Our job as a city is to create the conditions for prosperity and to do all we can do make sure everyone is along for the ride, and one part of that is making sure that residents have access to tax preparation services,” the Mayor said. “For many working families, free help with taxes and guidance in qualifying for the EITC can be a game-changer. That’s money that could be used to start a savings account, buy a car, get braces for a child, pay books and college tuition, or start a college fund for their children.”
Last year, the VITA campaign and Louisville AARP sites processed nearly 14,000 returns, adding more than $19.5 million to the local economy, including nearly $5.2 million in Earned Income Tax Credits to residents.
Jan. 27 is the first official day for filing tax returns. The free tax preparation sites start Tuesday, Jan. 21.
Appointments are recommended for VITA free tax assistance service and can be made now by calling (502) 305-0005 or scheduling online at https://louisvillekyvita.cascheduler.com.
The VITA free tax preparation sites are located at:
For a complete list of VITA locations, including mobile sites, as well as hours of operation, visit http://labcservices.org call Metro United Way’s 211 help referral service.
Also visit the website for information about a free service for those interested in filing their own taxes online. Starting Jan. 27, two software packages — MyFreeTaxes and the Free File program delivered by Intuit — will be available for those who meet eligibility.
The other service, AARP Tax-Aide, has a mission to serve any person who comes through the door, with special attention to those 60 and older.
AARP sites in Louisville will open the first week of February at the following locations:
For a full AARP schedule and listing, including sites in Southern Indiana and mobile sites, visit http://www.aarp-tax-aide-lou.org or call (502) 394-3443.
To help preparers accurately determine EITC eligibility and prepare returns, individuals should bring:
Volunteers are vital to the VITA and AARP programs’ success. Last year, nearly 250 volunteers dedicated more than 10,000 hours to offer free tax preparation services. Volunteers come from all walks of life and include students, professionals, and adults who take care of others at home.
The work of the Louisville Asset Building Coalition and the AARP Tax Assistance Program is made possible by Metro United Way, Louisville Metro Government, the IRS, the AARP Tax-Aide Foundation and dozens of other partners.
Mayor Greg Fischer today announced that nationally renowned civil rights and social justice activist Mattie Jones is the 2020 recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Award.
Jones, a native of Memphis, Tenn., moved with her family to Louisville as a child, after her father took a job at the Quartermaster Depot in Jeffersonville. Jones’ public activism began not long after her graduation from Central High School in 1951. She attended Indiana University but says she quickly decided it was not safe or welcoming for black students, so she transferred to the University of Louisville, which had recently desegregated its main campus. But after being denied a work study position and being told white co-eds would not accept working alongside her, Jones left college and joined the Black Workers Coalition to fight for equality in employment.
In over six decades of activism since, Jones has organized countless demonstrations, public conversations, and boycotts focused on women’s and worker’s rights, environmental justice, peace and police/community relations. She was a founding member of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and has helped lead and staff numerous local and national justice operations during her long career.
“At the tender age of 86, Mattie Jones has outlived some of our community’s original civil rights stalwarts, and to this day, she outworks many others to remain an active advocate for justice, equality and equity,” said Mayor Fischer. “Mattie’s battles and victories over the years against racism and sexism only make her advocacy and inspiration more powerful. There is no quit in Mattie. She is most worthy of this significant recognition.”
Mayor Fischer will present the Freedom Award on Sunday, Jan. 19 during the “Keepers of the Dream” community arts celebration dedicated to Dr. King, in Whitney Hall at the Kentucky Center on Main Street. The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 5 p.m., with lobby activities from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m.
Jones, who describes herself as “just another soldier in the army for peace, justice and equality,” said she is honored by the award.
“I appreciate Mayor Fischer making me this year’s honoree, and I appreciate too, that Mayor Fischer did not forget west Louisville after Election Day. When invited, he shows, and that’s important,” Jones said, adding that she’ll be accepting the award on behalf of her family and her community.
“If it wasn’t for God, my family and my community, I would never had made it. My husband caring for the children, my mother’s support, the people who maybe didn’t march or demonstrate but would walk by and wave and say, ‘Miss Mattie, we’re praying for you,’ I needed them all,” she said. “To experience and be a part of the changes in my lifetime, I am blessed to have been a soldier, a majorette for justice!”
Jones said receiving the Freedom Award is especially poignant for her, since she is a native of Memphis and was there helping prepare for an upcoming demonstration on April 4, 1968 when Dr. King was assassinated. “It’s hard to describe how awful that was,” Jones said. “Dr. King was not the only organizer, and not the only agitator of our time, but he was a beacon for justice, and his death brought such darkness.”
Mattie Jones and her husband Turner Harris Jones, a teacher and later a tax auditor, were married in 1955 and had nine children and raised 120 foster children. Working as a cook at local hotels, she said she focused her greatest energies raising her children and fighting for justice.
In the 60’s she marched against segregation in public schools and for open housing, and credits the late Sen. Georgia Davis Powers, then a neighbor in the Parkland neighborhood, for inspiring her to get involved. “She asked me to attend a meeting, and when I got there, there was Dr. King, Rev. Abernathy and so many other inspirational people. I left there on fire,” Jones said.
In addition to helping found the National Alliance against Racist and Political Repression in 1973, she worked on a local level with the Kentucky Alliance against Racist and Political Repression, alongside the late Rev. Louis Coleman, Anne Braden and countless others.
In the 1980s, Jones traveled the South as a staff member for the Southern Organizing Committee for Economic and Social Justice, and in 1991 accepted a position as Coordinator of Racial and Economic Justice at the Fellowship of Reconciliation in New York. With the support of her family, Jones worked in New York, with frequent trips back to Louisville. She said one of her most treasured accomplishments in that role was organizing a Women of Color in the Workplace Conference, which hosted women from around the country and the world.
After returning from New York in the late 1990s, Jones began working full time with Rev. Coleman at the Justice Resource Center.
On the environmental justice front, Jones fought against toxic emissions in Rubbertown and for greater oversight of the companies there, through the Strategic Toxic Air Reduction program. And through the Louisville Black Chamber of Commerce, she and Coleman worked to see a high percentage of minority-owned construction companies involved in the building of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and the YUM! Center.
In 2018, in honor of Mattie Jones’ 85th birthday, then-Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton announced that two blocks of River Park Drive would be honorarily designated as Mattie Jones Way. The route intersects Louis Coleman Jr. Drive, which Jones’ bio notes reflects “a meaningful reminder of all these two influential civil rights leaders accomplished together in Louisville and far beyond.”
The Mayor’s Freedom Award, sponsored by Republic Bank and first presented in 1988, recognizes residents who have dedicated their lives to promoting justice, peace, freedom, non-violence, racial equality and civic activism. Last year’s winner was Diane Porter, chairwoman of the Jefferson County Board of Education. (See list of other previous winners below.) Jones will be presented an award of blown glass created by Ché Rhodes, Associate Professor, Head of Glass, University of Louisville Hite Art Institute.
The 10th annual Keepers of the Dream Community Arts Celebration of Dr. King’s Vision is presented by Kentucky Performing Arts’ ArtsReach, in collaboration with the city and the River City Drum Corp. The Jan. 19 event, hosted by WKU student Jayla Ransom, will feature presentation of the Mayor’s Freedom Award, ArtsReach Living the Vision Awards, Keith McGill’s recitation of Dr. King’s speech, “Another America,” along with dance, music and spoken word.
The ArtsReach Living the Vision Award will be presented to educators Edna Graham, Johnetta Anderson, and those who have led Maryhurst’s programming team – Joyia Johnson, Stacie Vaughn, Demarco Harris, Jayme Thiem.
Performers include those from ArtsReach Dance, Percussion and Violin Studios at the Chestnut Street Family YMCA, Portland Promise, WESTEC and West End School. Other featured artists are Phoenixx Lee with the art of LaNia Roberts, poets Writeous Soul and Brea Brea, Every Known Mastermind, Made New Acapella, D.E.S.T.I.N.E.D. Dance, and the Percussion Ensemble and Drumline of River City Drum Corp.
In addition to the performance and awards ceremony, the lobby will be bursting with activity prior to the event, with pre-show entertainment by River City Drum Corp Pipe Drummers, a selfie station, Civil Rights button-making with Gwen Kelly, and exhibitors from local organizations.
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.
Mayor Greg Fischer today joined representatives from Louisville’s faith, education and business communities to announce the launch of a new 501c3, Compassionate Louisville, an independent organization to oversee and further Louisville’s compassion work. The organization, led by Dr. Muhammad Babar, will build upon the city’s momentum and strengthen its culture of compassion and volunteerism.
“Compassion is one of our core city values and is part of our legacy in Louisville, from the life and work of compassion champions like Justice Louis Brandeis, Thomas Merton, Muhammad Ali, Anne Braden and others,” said the Mayor. “The creation of Compassionate Louisville will champion our cause of compassion, make it sustainable and ensure it lives on beyond any administration.”
The organization will exist as a portal to support and empower existing local organizations that are doing year-round compassion work. By identifying issues that need to be addressed through compassionate action, the board will build awareness and facilitate connections and partnerships to support the needs of the community.
The launch of Compassionate Louisville builds upon compassion initiatives like the Mayor’s Give A Day Week of Service, the city-wide festival of volunteerism, service and compassion. In 2019, the city broke its own world record with more than 235,000 acts of service or compassion.
In November 2011, the Mayor, along with Metro Council members, signed the Charter for Compassion, committing Louisville to a 10-year Compassionate City campaign. This work has helped the city form a strategic partnership with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and earn the distinction of being named an International Model City for Compassion four years in a row.
“Our vision is to create a place where all people in our community have the opportunity, desire, and support to engage in year-round service and compassion,” said Dr. Babar, Chair, Compassionate Louisville. “Our purpose is simple, to empower all people to flourish.”
Compassionate Louisville board members include:
Mayor Greg Fischer and the Veterans Community Alliance of Louisville today announced the sixth annual Mayor’s Week of Valor — a series of events to honor and celebrate the contributions and sacrifices of active-duty military, veterans and their families.
Coinciding with Veterans Day, the 2019 Week of Valor will feature 27 educational, patriotic, community or civic events from Nov. 2 through Nov. 13. Residents are encouraged to participate and recognize, support and honor veterans.
Events include a 22 Push-Up Challenge on Nov. 2, a Women Veterans Town Hall on Nov. 7, and a Veterans Wellness Expo + Run/Walk on Nov. 9.
Also on Monday, Nov. 11, the city’s Veterans Day Parade will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in downtown Louisville this year on Jefferson Street, between Fourth and Seventh streets. The parade welcomes all military personnel and veterans, either in groups or as individuals, to participate. (There is no cost to enter; participants are asked to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 502-552-1131.)
“Our freedoms are here for us because of the service and sacrifice of our veterans,” Fischer said. “We’re asking residents from across the community to come out and show support during the Week of Valor to honor the people who’ve helped keep our country free.”
A full schedule of events is attached or can be found at http://louisvilleky.gov/weekofvalor.
Mayor Greg Fischer today joined Metro Animal Services and Friends of Metro Animal Services (FOMAS) for a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open a state-of-the-art animal shelter at 3516 Newburg Road, which replaces the outdated facility on Manslick Road.
“Our community deserves a modern, full-service animal shelter that provides the best care possible for animals and the most efficient service possible for residents,” Mayor Fischer said. “Our Metro Animal Services has been doing an outstanding job in recent years, finding homes for a record number of animals and reaching ‘no kill for time or space’ status for the first time in its history. This shelter is the perfect place for the LMAS team to provide their top-notch, compassionate service.”
The 33,000-square-foot facility puts all animal-related services on one campus where residents can adopt a pet, purchase or renew a pet license or take a stray pet.
“Animals Services has operated from two locations for a decade, complicating how our agency operates and confusing the public that uses our services,” said Ozzy Gibson, LMAS Shelter Director. “Not only is our campus now conveniently accessible to all Jefferson County residents, it saves us money that we can use to find more ways to help our shelter pets.”
The new facility can house up to 235 animals and features all climate-controlled kennels with isolation rooms to prevent the spread of illness. A modern veterinary wing meets industry standards and includes the shelter’s first X-ray and ultrasound machines, allowing LMAS to quickly evaluate sick and injured pets. There are four operating tables as well as separate rooms for pets being prepped and recovering from surgery.
The nearly $11.6 million dollar facility also includes a fully furnished clinic, which will operate independently from the shelter, offering pet owners low-cost spay and neuter services, vaccinations and microchipping. “Our community has few options for people who cannot afford the average cost of spaying or neutering their pet. An independently run, low-cost clinic encourages responsible pet ownership, decreases our stray pet population and prevents shelter overcrowding,” said Gibson.
Specialty areas that were missing from the old facility give shelter pets a greater chance of being adopted. A behavioral room allows staff to train or correct undesirable behaviors while a photo room will ensure pets look their best in photos for potential adopters. There’s also a dedicated enrichment room where volunteers and groups can make treats for shelter pets.
“A huge part of the success of Metro Animal Services is their employees and supporters. Friends of Metro Animal Services is honored to have helped make a modern shelter a reality, not just shelter pets, but also the staff and volunteers,” said FOMAS Executive Director Susanna Westerfield. “They have struggled for decades to properly care for animals in a rundown, outdated facility. These every day heroes deserve nothing but the best to continue providing quality care to shelter pets.”
A large laundry room with commercial washing machines and dryers replace the old shelter’s appliances intended for home use. Separate food prep areas equipped with commercial dishwashers make feeding time and cleanup more efficient.
Benefits of the new shelter go beyond the building to include more enrichment opportunities for shelter pets. The campus features six fenced-in play yards compared to just one at the old facility. There’s also a half-mile walking track where volunteers can walk a dog on their lunch break.
“Many of us have long awaited this day. This state-of-the-art facility is just the latest in a long series of changes we have made as a city to address the needs of Louisville Metro Animal Services,” said Metro Council District 10 representative Pat Mulvihill. “Public Safety is one of our many goals as elected officials, and now we are not only protecting the public but protecting the animals in need of a new home or returning them to their owners. It is a great day for those who love pets and want the humane treatment of all animals.”
The LMAS Animal Care Facility is located next to Animal House Adoption Center, which was built in 2009. Shelter construction began in July 2018 with funding from Louisville Metro Government and gracious donations from FOMAS and the Harshaw Family Foundation. The LMAS Animal Care Campus is also the future home of Alley Cat Advocates, which manages the Community Cat Program.
The LMAS Animal Care Facility is open 12-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Animal House Adoption Center is now open seven days a week, excluding holidays. Meet adoptable pets daily from 12-6 p.m., and Fridays from 12-7 p.m.. For more information about MAS and Pay It Forward Free Adoptions, visit https://louisvilleky.gov/government/animal-services.