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Brandon Coan


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Welcome: It’s All About the Benjamins

Last year at this time, Mayor Greg Fischer warned of devastating potential cuts to city services as a result of the state-mandated pension increase.  In District 8, these included the potential closures of Louisville Fire Engine 20 (1735 Bardstown Rd), the Douglass Community Center, the Cherokee Golf Course and the Highlands/Shelby Park Library.  After four-and-a-half months of negotiations, the Metro Council approved a budget for FY20 (July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020) that saved all four of the assets – only for Louisville Fire to come in at the 25th hour and – much to my surprise and dismay – reduce 15 firefighter positions at Truck 7 and Engine 11 companies at the 1025 Rubel Avenue station.  Ever since then, I have been waiting on the FY21 budget process to begin, with the top goal to restore the fire service.  

Officially, Council budget season starts with the mayor’s budget address on April 23rd.  However, over the last two weeks, new information has come to light enabling members to plan ahead.  Namely, FY20 revenue is forecasted to be $18.9M higher than expected.  That means there is a distinct probability that there will be no new cuts for FY21.  Unfortunately, it does not mean all of the FY20 budget cuts can be sustainably restored: $4.7M is non-recurring revenue from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office; sharply higher-than-expected net profits ($9.3M) have an unusual amount of volatility; and huge budget challenges remain (of which pension expenses are just one).  I hope it means the Metro Council (if not the mayor) will restore some of the FY20 public safety cuts, though, including a recurring $1.785M to fully fund our firefighters.  Louisville has a strong economy; and employee withholdings ($3.4M) and other revenue sources make clear that it is the responsible thing to do.  I will strongly advocate for this over the next four months.

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The pension monster is forecasted to grow by another recurring $41M (to $141M) by FY23.  Without new and/or different sources of tax revenue, it will eventually eat us alive.  So, two local revenue option bills filed last week (2/21) in the Kentucky House of Representatives are reasons for hope.  HB 470 would enable cities to levy a restaurant tax of up to 3% and HB 475 would propose a constitutional amendment to start us down the road to a local option sales tax.  I wholly support local control over taxing, so HB 475 is particularly appealing to me.  So far as HB 470, I urge its passage so that Louisville acquires the future taxing option – but I am not convinced that now is the time for us to exercise it.  On the surface, Louisville’s restaurant scene is more vibrant than ever.  Tourism is booming.  However, delivery, technology and changes of consumers’ lifestyles are disrupting the restaurant industry as a whole, similar to the way retail has been transformed.  Big box stores and then e-commerce have weakened (and in some cases decimated) traditional commercial corridors like Bardstown Road.  I shudder to think of the damage ghost kitchens, mobile apps and an insurmountable tax burden could do to the neighborhood.  Local independent restaurants are more than just businesses; in my opinion, they are society’s most vital third places and the lifeblood of the Highlands.  Notably, HB 470 provides that a restaurant that pays a restaurant tax shall not pay any net profits tax on the business, which makes the option more palatable.  Nonetheless, a restaurant tax may not be as appetizing as it appears and I, for one, am not ready to order yet.

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Speaking of the Highlands restaurant scene, it is time to add another name alongside the likes of Kathy Cary, Anthony Lamas, Dallas McGarity and others.  Last week (2/20), I was extremely proud to recognize Darnell Superchef Ferguson of his namesake restaurant and budding culinary empire as the Louisville Metro Council's 18th Annual Black History Month Program honoree from District 8.  Darnell is a great chef and even better citizen and human being.  Learn more about his remarkable story here and visit SuperChef’s at 1702 Bardstown Road for a colorful and delicious breakfast or lunch.



For breaking news and information, please follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  If you have a question or comment, please call me at: (502) 574-1108 or email: (and copy  If you have a service request, please call Metro 311 or visit Metro 311 online.  Visit the District 8 Strategic Plan page here.