While support is evident for a fund that finances low-income housing, Lexington’s council remains stuck over funding the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The council is hung up over a proposed one percent increase in Lexington’s tax on insurance premiums. Among the city officials withholding support is Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. As part of the effort Gray’s willing to fund a city office that coordinates services for homeless people. However, he won’t support a tax increase until its details are ironed out.
“In my view, the plan comes first, appropriate due diligence and education before we make long term decisions about public investment,” said Gray.
During a hearing at Lexington City Hall, homeless advocate Kate Savage showed photos and told the stories of several homeless people. If it means helping them, Savage is willing to pay higher taxes.
“I’m just an average person and for 13 dollars and 54 cents I would willingly give you today more than that to help these people have a decent roof, have hope, have faith, and have some future,” said Savage.
Among opponents to a tax increase was Carolyn Elliot of the Lexington Landlord Association. Elliot argues affordable shelter is already available. Plus, she says a lot of tax money is already spent on the needs of homeless people.
“Already these agencies are getting a combined total of 15 million, 15 million dollars and you want more to throw at a problem that hasn’t been fixed,” explained Elliot.
Council member Kevin Stinnett agrees a tax increase is not needed..
“If we’re gonna fund programs for PDR and other things, this should also be funded through our general fund revenues which we have to find a way to do that,” said Stinnett.
Rather than a tax increase, some opponents say the city should seek out another funding source for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. However, Steve Kay, who co-chaired the mayor’s Commission on Homelessness doubts there’s a better option.