12:10pm

Wed December 4, 2013
Lexington/Richmond

Council Rejects Beautification Tax For Downtown Lexington

Lexington’s city council has rejected a business tax which would fund downtown beautification.  It would have levied an assessment on property owners within a special taxing district.  Ferrell Alford, who owns two downtown buildings, thinks such improvements should be left to the owner's discretion.

“Essentially to a property owner, it’s basically a ten percent tax increase for things that, if we want to do, can take care of ourselves, if we don’t want to do, we don’t have to do,” said Alford.

The levy would have raised $270-thousand a year for beautification efforts.  Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who backed the special tax, says a vibrant downtown is essential to economic development.

 “We would not have some of the businesses here like Bingham Mccutchen had they not been impressed by the vitality of the city.  It’s gonna be real easy to walk away from that and when we do that we walk away from jobs,” said Gray.

A petition was submitted to council in support of the tax, but some members worry it was signed by exempt property owners who would not be required to pay the tax.  In the end Council members tabled the proposal.   Lexington's Downtown Development Corporation, which backs the tax, may try again in 2014.