Josh James, Kentucky Public Radio

After several contentious meetings on the subject, the Urban County Council voted Tuesday night to establish procedures for reviewing contract agreements reached through collective bargaining. For years the council has debated just what its role should be in agreements reached through collective bargaining. Traditionally, approval of the contracts fell to the mayor's office. But with unfunded pension liabilities mounting, some members of the council see it as their responsibility to review and ultimately agree to the contracts.

The Kentucky Transportation Center and the Army Corps of Engineers are joining forces to make sure Kentucky's waterways are being used to their full potential. While the collaboration isn't unique, it does represent a new approach to tackling old problems. Long before highways, Kentucky's rivers served as vital means of transportation. Today, Joe Crabtree, director of the Kentucky Transportation Center, says, when it comes to shipping freight, water still has its advantages. 

A battle is brewing over how much authority Lexington's Urban County Council should have over contract agreements reached through collective bargaining. Council members tussled for hours Thursday night over a resolution put forward by Councilman Ed Lane that would clarify the procedure for approving collective bargaining agreements. Lane and his supporters argued the resolution is needed because the police and fire pension system is unsustainable and the council deserves more input.

All three of Lexington Mayor Jim Gray's historic line-item vetoes of the Urban County Council-approved budget will remain in effect. The council put up resistance to only one set of cuts. In what Councilman Jay McChord called a "heartfelt" decision, the body voted 11-4 to keep Mayor Gray's 10-percent across-the-board cut to the government's partner agencies intact, shaving close to 315-thousand dollars off the budget. Councilman Doug Martin, who voted against overriding the mayor's veto, said slashing the budgets of organizations like the Salvation Army and Hope Center in the midst of difficult economic times was painful.

Last week, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray made good on a promise to veto parts of the city budget approved by the Urban County Council. This week it’s the council’s turn to respond. At Tuesday’s work session, council members received advice from attorneys on their options for overriding Mayor Gray’s vetoes, which took effect last Friday. Some of the items will require a simple up or down vote, but others, such as the restored 10% cut in arts and charitable programs, could be voted on individually, though the council lacks the authority to reduce the amount of the cuts. For now, Lexington Vice Mayor Linda Gorton says council members are remaining relatively tight-lipped about their plans.

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