"Pork Barrel Projects" Face Vote At Lexington City Hall

Sep 11, 2013

Lexington-owned recreational facilities like Jacobson Park could benefit from a $4-million spending plan before city council.
Credit Keith Reed / Flickr, Creative Commons

A plan that allows individual council members to designate city money for special projects is creating discussion at Lexington City Hall.  A final vote on the $4-million proposal is set for tomorrow. 

The proposal allocates $250-thousand to each council member, who will spend the money on specific projects. Just under four-million dollars would come from Lexington’s rainy day fund.  It would roughly cut the fund in half.   Such spending bothers Jim Capillo, who has worked at the Fayette County jail for 20-years.  In an effort to save taxpayer money, he and his colleagues agreed to cheaper salary-and-benefits packages.   Given those cutbacks, Capillo’s critical of new spending.

“And now it may be perceived that pork barrel politics, a la Washington D.C., it may be perceived that pork barrel politics , a la Washington D.C. is creeping in,” said Capillo.

For example, Capillo says the money could be better spent on the jail’s computers which he claims could soon crash.  However, Council member Shevawn Akers argues the additional spending will allow members to fund improvements that will benefit city employees and their neighbors.

“For the corrections officer who only makes $14 an hour, these funds that would be spent within the district would actually benefit his neighborhood, reinvest back into his neighborhood and improve his quality of life for him and his family,” said Akers.

For example, Akers says a councilmember could decide to spend the money on improvements to trails, tennis and basketball courts.  The preliminary vote on the proposal passed 8-6.