Budget cuts don’t spark joy

Our governor must have read the zeitgeist icon of our time — Marie Kondo — whose wisdom and advice books have helped bring order to millions around the world. Her revolutionary system for decluttering one’s life hinges on whether the item “sparks joy” or deserves a “thank you” on its way to the landfill.

Louisville owes Kondo, Gov. Matt “Bell Curve” Bevin and the Kentucky Republican Party a collective “thank you” for helping us declutter our city.

Why?

Bevin and the Kentucky GOP have increased the contributions cities must make to the public pension system in order to close the historic gap that threatens to bankrupt the state. We think fixing the pension is a good idea. We are not sure Bevin is the person to do it, though.

Either way, Louisville now faces a $65 million budget deficit over the next four years, according Mayor Greg Fischer. He said his administration is considering cutting services or increasing taxes… or both. One way or another, the city of Louisville will have to decide how to find enough money… or to declutter.

So, now is the time for us to appreciate all of the fond memories we have of emergency services, such as ambulances, fire stations and police officers and such luxury municipal amenities as the Louisville Zoo, Waterfront Park and the Belle of Louisville.

Those items were included in Fischer’s draft of proposed cuts.

The teachings of Kondo suggest that we dump everything into a pile, look at each item one at a time, keep only those that make us happy or “spark joy” and say “thank you” to all of the things we decide to throw out.

In order to save over $35 million next year alone, the city put into a pile many items and services from three categories: “Public Safety,” Quality of Life” and “Central Services/Other Elected Officials.”

Starting with “Public Safety”:

Eliminate the next three classes of new police recruits? “The community would likely see a higher crime rate, more officer safety issues, slower response times, fewer arrests made in major cases, lower clearance rates, less community outreach and less services for victims,” according to Fischer’s administration.

Close two fire stations? The city would still have 19 fire stations. The longer response times will most likely lead to increased insurance rates for everyone across the city — as well as delayed services such as extinguishing fires and saving lives. But, at least we’re decluttering the city. Thank you Engine 1 and Engine 15 … possibly Engines 16, 17, 20 and Truck 3.

Eliminate ShotSpotter? All of the thoughts and prayers will most likely put an end to gun violence, so a system to improve the emergency response time following shootings is probably just clutter.

Decommission one of our 26 ambulances? Thank you ambulance, but you’re just clutter.

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That’s some of the “Public Safety” pile, but we can get to the rest later… On to “Quality of Life”:

Eliminate four of Louisville’s 17 community centers? How many centers can a city of over 600,000 need, anyway?

Close one of the 18 public libraries? Who reads anymore, anyway?

Reduce syringe exchange hours, leading to fewer clean syringes around town? It would also increase the spread of HIV and HCV and overdose deaths.

Cease the immunization program? Declutter all of the vaccines that prevent the spread of emergency diseases such as Hep A, pandemic flu and vector-borne illnesses.

That’s some clutter! But… there’s even more clutter in “Central Services”!

Eliminate Brightside? No new plantings or cleanup of city property. General dystopia, but no bureaucratic clutter!

Thank you, Sister Cities, World Trade Center, SummerWorks programs. Thank you, Neighborhood Development Funds for roads, sidewalks and other such clutter.

Oh, and to the Belle of Louisville? “Thank you.” It’s been real, but… you’re just river clutter.

Of course, I jest.

Louisville faces this decluttering decision because of mismanagement, political greed and ignorance over many years by the legislature and governors’ offices. Their past actions have all led to this pension fiasco, and now Bevin and lawmakers need to fix it.

For the city of Louisville, the problem may be solved by decluttering here and there, but certainly in a time of our bourbon boom, with hotels and tourists sprouting like weeds, Fischer and the Metro Council can find other ways to raise revenue.

Or, if they cannot, then in the next election, maybe we can say “thank you” as they go into the landfill of history.

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