Mayor proposes Lexington’s budget

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Lexington Mayor Jim Gray has decided how he’d like to spend your tax money.

His proposed $345 million budget is for the new fiscal year that begins July 1st, that’s about $20 million more than the current budget or a 6.6% increase.

“It reflects a city that’s growing, it reflects a city that’s healthy and it reflects a city that of course has problems that we need to work on and we need to deal with,” said Gray. “Continuous improvement is all about what we’re about.”

The mayor says his budget focuses on his three goals for Lexington: creating jobs, running government efficiently and building a great city.

He breaks the budget down into building blocks: public safety, economic development, parks, basic services, efficiency and quality of life.

Public Safety

Public safety dominates Mayor Gray’s budget. He proposes spending 54% of the budget on police, fire and corrections.

He plans to hire 20 new officers. This would grow the Lexington Police Department to 600, the highest the force has ever been.

$600,000 to help cover the cost of body cameras for uniformed police officers is in the budget along with hiring a civilian employee to oversee and maintain the cameras.

46 other, new, full-time positions are included.

There is also funding for new vehicles, a canine facility and Taser replacement.

$5.2 million for new fire station in Masterson Station would be the city’s 24th station. A new first station hasn’t been built in Lexington in more than a decade.

More than $2 million is budged for repairs of fire stations and other needs along with almost $3 million for fire vehicles.

“I think what he’s saying is Lexington is a great city and great cities are safe and we have to invest and that’s a number one priority,” said Lexington Police Chief Mark Barnard.

Economic Development

The mayor proposes $1.25 million in the city’s Jobs Fund to continue making the city more competition in attracting and retaining jobs.

$2 million would fully fund the Purchase of Development Rights program, PDR, which protects farms and the agriculture industry they support.

Parks

$3 million is proposed for aquatics facilities in Lexington, in line with several recommendations made in the Aquatics Master Plan.

That $3 million includes spraygrounds at Masterson Station, Jacobson, Douglass and Castlewood parks.

The mayor wants $400,000 in designed funds for a Regional Aquatics Center at Shillito.

Basic Services

The mayor is making paving a priority and asking for $7 million dollars in the budget. He says that would be added to the $3 million in state road funds for a total of $10 million for paving.

A new salt storage facility would cost $1.5 million and the mayor says it would improve the efficiency of the city’s snow removal efforts in east Lexington.

Mayor Gray wants to continue to honor the city’s commitment to affordable housing and homelessness prevention and intervention by including $2.75 million in the budget.

$394,000 would be a continuing commitment to enhancing corridors throughout Lexington and he wants to increase funds for mowing of greenways, parks and along county roads.

The mayor wants to invest $934,000 to upgrade traffic signals at several busy intersections plus $250,000 for pedestrian safety upgrade projects.

Other pedestrian safety upgrade projects include $1.8 million to build sidewalks on each side of Southland Drive, $500,000 for sidewalks improvements and to accommodate the Legacy Trail on Fourth Street and $150,000 in Trail maintenance.

Efficiency

The mayor plans to improve technology and invest in tools the city needs. He gives the example of investing $1.1 million in LexCall.

He also has budgeted $1.25 million for networks and computer equipment which he says is essential to replace aging equipment, improve security and ensure accountability and transparency.

Quality of Life

The mayor announced his support of a 130-acre youth sports complex in Cardinal Run North by designating $7 million for the project to move forward.

He also included $10 million of city money for the renovation of the Lexington convention center despite money from the state still unknown while the General Assembly fights over its budget.

The mayor notes this is the fourth year of surplus in the city.

He plans to lower bond borrowing from $59 million to $47.9 million.

The Urban County Council will now review the budget. It has until June to decide.

“I think it’s a great budget,” said Shevawn Akers, 2nd district council member. “I think it just demonstrates that Lexington’s economy is really strong, continues to grow.”

Categories: Local News, News

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