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Sources: Look for Louisville metro government to cut GLI funding, but not completely

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(Editor’s note: This post was updated at 4:20 p.m.)

Running up to the 4 p.m. announcement of city budget cuts, even business leaders close to him told Insider Louisville they didn’t  know what Metro Mayor Greg Fischer would do.

The majority of insiders we talked to expected Fisher and the Metro Council to hold back part of the $1 million the city gives GLI, the main economic-development entity, annually in favor of the city’s internal efforts under Ted Smith.

They did, but rather than a haircut, GLI escapes with a little off the top.

City government will cut only $50,000 of its 2012 GLI subsidy, according to a Fischer news release.

Fischer appointed Smith to direct the new Department of Economic Growth & Innovation, created last month from the city’s former economic development department.

Metro Council President Jim King told Insider Louisville last month that he foresees cutting the city’s contribution to GLI to zero, gradually phasing out funding over three years, in favor of supporting the city’s economic development effort. But cleary, Fischer has other ideas.

Such a cut could have changed GLI’s economic-development/chamber mission dramatically at a time when the organization is looking for a new CEO.

GLI executives are in the midst of a search for a new CEO/president after Joe Reagan resigned last month to become CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association.

Insider Louisville has learned there are at least three candidates currently under consideration. More on that next week, along with other GLI news.

One Smith confidante said he told Smith recently that the city’s $1 million subsidy to GLI goes to pay the GLI CEO’s salary of about $300,000 “and the rest goes for a bunch of other six-figure salaries at an organization that only has 45 people, right now. Incredible!”

The source pointed out to Insider Louisville that the typical GLI membership fee is about $395 per year, “which means from that perspective, it takes 1,000 new or renewing members every year just to pay the CEO’s annual salary.”

“And I am not the only one saying these things. I have been hearing it all the way around,” he said.

In December, Insider Louisville broke the story that at a time when top GLI executives were making relatively high salaries, the organization was bleeding dues revenue, with more than 1,300 companies dropping memberships from 2009 through 2011.

Multiple sources said they believe GLI is best at creating, maintaining and expanding networking opportunities, something the chamber doesn’t need to pay the CEO $300,00 to do.

“You need a $100,000 event planner,” said a source.

As for the city budget, metro government will cut $6.8 million though Fischer also announced a $3.5 million settlement from Insight Communications for its cable franchise. Fischer said last month that Louisville is facing a $12 million deficit.

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