With an improving economy, Lexington city leaders are moving ahead with an affordable housing initiative in the Bluegrass community. Lexington's city council has wrestled with an affordable housing question for years.
Establishing an ongoing funding mechanism through a tax increase remains an option, but it's still regarded a tough vote. Finance Commissioner Bill Omara came forward Tuesday with a different short term approach. He says revenues are expected to come in four to five million dollars higher than anticipated. So the administration suggests setting aside three and a half million dollars now to go into an affordable housing fund and support homelessness services. Vice Mayor Linda Gorton likes the idea.
"I think this is a really good way to seed that fund," said Gorton. "It does nothing to railroad any other action we would take in April or May in terms of dedicated funding. It just says here's some seed money. Let's get going."
Still to be decided are program guidelines for building more affordable housing and a way to support it long term. Council member Kevin Stinnett wondered why the proposal didn't come during the mayor's budget speech in a few weeks.
"You could have done the exact same thing in three weeks. I'm just concerned this gives some false pretenses out there. Hey, we funded it today, well no you haven't because it can't be funded until next fiscal year anyway, July one to begin spending it and two we don't have a plan," said Stinnett.
The Council's budget committee adopted the plan Tuesday. It also includes spending funds on public safety initiatives.