After much debate, Lexington city leaders have decided to spend a million dollars in economic development incentives. The final amount was much less than requested by Lexington’s mayor.In fact, the Council cut in half the amount of money intended for what the mayor calls a ‘jobs fund.’ Mayor Jim Gray has said the money would go for loans, primarily for local companies creating new jobs.
Council Member Steve Kay agrees it’s important to strike when the iron is hot.
“And there really is a window of opportunity here. There’s a certain category of development that right now no city in the country is providing additional incentives for. That window will probably close in a year or two,” said Kay.
Council members had a variety of opinions about how much money to put in a jobs fund. Vice Mayor Linda Gorton suggested it be reduced to a half million dollars initially. She worried about taking money away from a separate economic development rainy day fund. But, Council Member Julian Beard wanted to stick with the original two million dollars.
“But, I would rather go ahead and have that two million dollars hanging out there as a sign of our intent to really start going after things,” said Beard.
Council member Ed Lane asked about what types of businesses would be eligible for incentives. He also believes Council members should be briefed on offers to companies. Mayor Gray tried to reassure members careful consideration will be given on how to spend these dollars.
“To apply it, not spend it casually or in a cavalier way, but to apply it in a thoughtful way,” explained Gray.
Gray likened it to putting up a flag for businesses to see. Some council members asked about building future funding into the mayor’s budget plan.