Lexington city officials are expected to approve a 290 million dollar budget next week. Final modifications were made Tuesday at city hall. In the past, previous mayors and councils have not always seen eye to eye about spending priorities. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray says he and the council worked well together. He doesn’t anticipate any vetoes. “This year the work with the council between the administration and the council was very effective work and I feel going forward that the budget that the council is adopting is a budget that the administration, once we review, will be good with it,” said Gray.
The budget includes no tax increases, but does increase the franchise fee for electric and gas utilities by one percent. City workers will receive a two to two and a half percent increase in pay. Council members considered upping their pay but voted down the proposal in a close vote. Council members haven’t had a pay increase since 2007. While layoffs have been announced at UK and the health department recently, the city plans no layoffs. Vice Mayor Linda Gorton says the still-struggling economy remains a concern.
“Our finance people have a really good track record as far as projecting our revenues.. they have an excellent track record and that came out during our meetings because they were asked about their record. …so the thing about a budget is it’s a framework and if we half way through the year find out we have to make adjustments ..we will,” said Gorton.
One item added to the spending list Tuesday was 125 thousand dollars for a new bathroom at the arboretum. Vice Mayor Linda Gorton says that is a significant improvement at the Alumni Drive complex.
“The arboretum has over 200 thousand visitors every year..and from five p.m. until eight a.m. the next day the bathroom is closed and there’s no bathroom on the weekends..except for one port-a-potty..so I think it was really good that the council could add that item in.”
One point two million dollars for planning and design of the Arena arts and entertainment project is included in the budget. Gorton says the funding which includes money to go toward rebuilding Rupp Arena was not a debated item among council members. A final vote is scheduled next week.