Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Louisville’s $63 Million Dollar “Rainy Day” Fund

$63 million dollars. That’s what Louisville, a third tier city, has squirreled away in its “rainy day” fund. “Mayor for Life” Jerry Abramson has proposed cutting $3.4 million dollars from the budget, which Abramson claims has a $20 million shortfall. Gone will general road maintenance, and community programs, especially those aimed at children. Community centers and libraries will be closed one day a week, and Otter Creek Park will be closed just to name a very few.

$63 million dollars. With that, Metro employees wouldn’t be facing mandatory unpaid time off or layoffs. Critical city unions, such as the police and firefighters, wouldn’t be looking at not only forgoing overdue pay increases (nominal as they are), but also possible pay cuts as well. And then there’s the issue of overtime pay the firefighters are owed by the City.

$63 million dollars. That’s three times the average amount that second tier cities, such as Nashville, Toledo, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis, keep in reserve. Nashville and Cincinnati have $15 million and $13 million respectively in their “rainy day funds”, and they are considering using a portion to avoid layoffs. Toledo, which is facing a $10 million deficit, has $6.4 million dollars in its “rainy day” fund. For now, their mayor, Carty Feinbeiner, has opted not to use those funds yet. Instead, he has been concentrating on cutting services. Buffalo, New York has $35 million dollars stashed away as a buffer in its “rainy day” fund according to the city’s financial controller, Janet Penksa.

$63 million dollars. Not a penny of that will be spent on either government services or to assist government employees. Abramson insist that this money is for “emergencies” only. In case he hasn’t heard, we are in a recession. We’ve been in a recession since December of 2007 (and we didn’t need some government accounting or economic office to tell us that either). Companies are closing. Income is being cut. Services are being reduced or eliminated. People are losing their jobs. I think that qualifies as an “emergency” don’t you? Instead, the mayor is worried that using any portion of the fund could jeopardize the city’s bond rating. In other words, it could jeopardize Jerry’s intended legacy, which is the oft-attempted revitalization of downtown Louisville. With all the cutbacks and layoffs, Abramson hasn’t cut back one thin dime on his downtown pet projects and he doesn’t intend to unless forced, which bring us to our last point.

$63 million dollars. That’s our money, paid for by people like you and me through our taxes. This isn’t “King” Abramson’s private piggy bank. If Jerry won’t let lose of the money for the benefit of our metro employees and community at large, will our Louisville Metro Soviet (formerly known as the Louisville Metro Council) force his hand? Long a rubber stamp (and hence the name), the Metro Soviet has shown little backbone when it has come to challenging the mayor’s directives. Now, given the crisis we’re facing, would be time for (as they used to say) “all good men---and women---to come to the aid of their country”, or in this case, their community.

It’s our money, so what are we going to do about it? Should the needs of people come first or should it be Abramson’s downtown legacy? From where I stand, it’s raining hard.


Brian Tucker said...

Great points, all of them. It should be noted that Jerry intends to use the rainy day fund to pay the judgment for the firefighters. That's why he won't save the budget with the money.

A Real Progressive said...

Note: Tucker make an unsupported claim without one shred of evidence being offered, that being
"It should be noted that Jerry intends to use the rainy day fund to pay the judgment for the firefighters."

I regularly read the Courier-Journal.
I also regularly read several other local online media sources.

NOWHERE has any of these sources reported that Abramson "intends" to use the rainy day fund for ANYTHING SPECIFIC!

So where does this Tucker pundit get his tidbit of info?

If he KNOWS this to be a FACT, then the ONLY people who would ACTUALLY KNOW this would be Abramson INSIDERS, meaning Tucker's writings are those of a political hack.

On the other hand, if he really does NOT KNOW this to be a fact and is promoting it to be a fact, then Tucker is engaged in intentionally misleading behavior (which actually qualifies him to be a C-J "reporter").

Either way, it appears that this Tucker person doesn't have his act together.

A Real Progressive said...

Nice research, Paul.

It is so refreshing to read the writings of someone who actually knows something about that which they write.

We should all hope for the true accountability that we are entitled to from this "King".

I'm trusting the unions to get to the bottom of this financial mess that Abramson has created.

BTW, did you know that Abramson's CFO quit her job last week?

What does she know that the rest of us don't?

Anonymous said...

Jerry is abusing his city and his employees. He is so focused on development, that he will lay off hundreds of employees to say at election time, look at what I did! Use the rainy day fund Mr. Mayor to get the city thru these trying times. It is pouring outside. It is the smart play.

Moderate Man

Anonymous said...

Its time to demand accountability from city government and expect them to get their finances straight. I believe that there should be a full investigation of the city finances by the state government as well as full investigation by the Internal Revenue Service to totally investigate city government finances.

Why did Jane Driskoll quit? Did she know something that Jerry encouraged her to retire? Is everyone about to get off the sinking ship? Why is it that the Mayor really has no concrete facts and figures to determine what is actually a budget concern. You can't get straight answers from this mayor and all of his administration. It is time for all of them to be replaced in their positions and the mayors office to be vacated by this current mayor.

He has practically destroyed our city from finances to manufacturing losses to lack of job creation. His leadership has been lacking for many years as he is more interested in running off on some trip than managing the affairs of the city.

There needs to be a full investigation of city finances and to know where every penny in the public domain is going and where it is being spent and how it is being spent. The taxpayers deserve full accountability when so many of their neighborhoods are falling apart, public services cut, and lack of services and attention to detail by the city.

Just like the fiasco of Hurricane Ike and the subsequent lack of cleanup, there should be a full accounting of what was going on in that situation. Furthermore, a full investigation is needed of the city administration and its political activities and the nature of what has been going on behind closed doors.