Lexington’s mayor has asked members of the urban county council to change their recently approved budget. The request came today (Friday) in a series of line-item vetoes.
Mayor Jim Gray vetoed three items in the new budget. Gray said no to the 400 thousand dollars the council wants to borrow for two new disc golf courses, lacrosse fields, improvements at the Charles Young community center, and a remodel of the Berry Hill pool. Another veto eliminates the jobs of seven people who work in government communications. And Gray's final veto reduced funding for outside agencies that provide services to the city by ten percent.
“What we found through this process is that our partner agencies, our employees across the board are willing to recognize these are very tough times and that we all have to share in the sacrifices,” said Gray.
Gray admits some employees voiced strong objections. The mayor’s vetoes, if sustained, would reduce spending by 889 thousand dollars in a 274 million dollar budget.
During budget discussions, the council agreed to postpone a one point four million dollar payment into the city's troubled police and firefighter pension funds. The postponement freed up more money for capital projects. The mayor's veto plan didn’t address that part of the budget, allowing for the possibility of a compromise over how that money can be spent. Finance commissioner Jane Driskell has the job of negotiating a deal with the council.
“We wanted to work through the issue and take an ordinance back to them that had a proposal on how we would handle this,” added Driskell.
Gray says it’s important to stay within core principal of ‘living within the city’s means’ and restoring a sound financial basis for local government. The mayor says high cost items like pensions, health insurance, and collective bargaining are still up for discussion. Any attempt by council to override the vetoes would likely occur next Thursday.