12:33am

Wed April 11, 2012
Lexington/Richmond

Lexington Mayor Proposes 289 Million Dollar Budget

At first blush, a 289-million dollar budget proposed by Lexington’s mayor is receiving favorable comments.  Now the urban county council begins its detailed look at the spending plan.  Mayor Jim Gray’s budget proposal is five percent larger than this year’s spending plan.  It includes no broad based tax increases, but does call for an increase in the franchise fee to pay for streetlights.   It also includes a pay raise for city workers.

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“We are included a two percent raise for non-union employees in the budget…it’s been three years since these employees received a raise.. and that was one percent in 2009,” said Gray.

Vice Mayor Linda Gorton is ‘thrilled’ with the idea of a pay raise.  Gorton calls it a morale booster.  The budget proposal also sets aside one point two million dollars for a renovation of Rupp Arena and to enhance the area around the complex.  Gorton says that item will get a healthy review.

“I’m sure that will be highly debated..I know the state money is matching money…so I think council members expected the mayor to put something in the budget and we’ve not discussed it at all,” said Gorton.     

An old juvenile detention facility in Lexington could one day house a new emergency operations center.  An 800 thousand dollar renovation was included in a budget proposed Tuesday by Lexington’s mayor.  Public Safety Commissioner Clay Mason says they could locate Lexcall, the Division of Emergency Management, and the 9-1-1 call centers there.

“It will improve public safety from a standpoint of getting the two call centers together in one place hopefully give us an opportunity to procure one software system that both police and fire can use in their response capabilities,” said Mason.

If approved by the council, Mason says it would probably take 18 months to establish an emergency operations center.  The budget proposal is a far cry from the 40-million dollars originally wanted for a new emergency operations center.  The city also hopes to find federal dollars for a scaled-down center

The council will take several weeks to review the budget proposal and then should act upon it in June.