Tax Increase Likely in Lexington After Council's Vacation

Jul 8, 2013

Their budget might be complete, but Lexington leaders might find themselves in the red if they don’t find more money to power streetlights. 

More than a year ago, a proposal to increase the franchise fee on utilities came from Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.  The monies from the one percent hike would go to support the streetlight program.  It didn’t happen in 2012, but a similar proposal came earlier this year.  This time, the City Council postponed any decision until August.  That’s when the Council will also be considering any changes in property taxes, which fund street lights.   Lexington Vice Mayor Linda Gorton believes options need to be developed during the Council’s month long summer break.

“What would it take in the streetlight tax to fully fund it?  What would it take for the standard options?  What would it take if a Council member has another scenario?," asked Gorton.

The Council’s summer break begins next week and ends in mid- August.  Vice Mayor Gorton would like to have information about streetlight funding options included in the administration’s recommendations.  Finance Commissioner Bill Omara asked for those ideas to make it to the Vice Mayor’s desk over the next few weeks.

“If you could give her whatever scenarios you want us to model for you by July 15th, that would give us time to in order to incorporate into the packet that we do distribute to you by August first for you to take into consideration for discussion on August 13th," said Omara.

Council members will be setting property tax rates in August.  County Clerk Don Blevins says it’s important to get the tax decisions done by the end of August.

 “Up until a few years ago, we were actually violating the statute for maybe as many as 20 years by not having our tax rates set on time.  I can’t say for sure, but I believe the reason we started having the relaxed schedule was to allow for a council break in the summer.  That’s where it came from.”

So it appears any decision about the city’s franchise fees and property taxes should be made by Labor Day.