Lexington Mayor Jim Gray has unveiled his $358 million budget for council consideration. In his address Tuesday, the second-term mayor made it clear he considers public safety a top priority.
NOTE: There's a link to the mayor's entire budget presentation at the bottom of this story page.
Before he delved into the specific suggestions, Gray spoke of what he called a cooling off economy. The mayor says previous budget tightening measures help make today’s decisions a bit easier. “Our approach to financial management works when the economy is moving swiftly and it works as the pace eases,” said Gray. “Thanks to efficiencies and fiscal controls that we put in place we’re ready to meet a tighter budget head on.”
The mayor is calling for establishing a fourth police geographic sector, an idea first proposed in the 1990's.
Chief Mark Barnard says that would help speed police response while helping to reduce crime. “Community policing is built upon knowing the place that you’re policing, knowing the people that live there and trying to know the crime trends. It’s very difficult as large as Lexington is getting to move back and forth throughout the city,” explained Barnard.
Budget Committee Vice Chair Amanda Mays Bledsoe agrees with another proposal in the mayor's budget, adding 30 police officers to the force. “I think it’s also wise to not add new projects and positions. Keep it tight while we’re not sure how the economy is going to move forward the next couple of years,” Mays Bledsoe said.
While not calling for new hires, the mayor’s budget does include a 2% pay hike for non-sworn employees.
Council members will now dissect the mayor’s budget over the next several weeks. They're expected to take final action in June.