Mayor Gray Unveils His Vision For 2014 Budget
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Mayor Jim Gray has officially outlined his $297 million spending plan for 2014, which he's calling a business-like plan with "a dose of Warren Buffett for investments and the Good Samaritan for taking care of our neighbors."
Mayor Gray began the address on Tuesday by defending a series of changes, including employee healthcare reforms and the recent pension agreement with police and firefighters, that he said were crucial to putting Lexington on a firmer fiscal foundation.
"Without the savings in health insurance, pensions, or union contracts, where would we be? Deeper in debt, or threatened with insolvency like Stockton, California, or Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, or making the massive public safety layoffs Cincinnati is considering," he told the council.
Infrastructure projects, for which the mayor is proposing $15.7M in limited bonding, are a top priority for many on the Urban County Council, including Kevin Stinnett.
"We desperately need to get back to basic services. We've gotten away from that in a couple years and we've got to get back to funding our basic services, such as public safety and infrastructure," Stinnett said.
The budget also calls for 35 new firefighters, an additional emergency ambulance, and other equipment upgrades for public safety. The old courthouse and Kentucky Theatre would also receive funds for repairs.
Yet council member Ed Lane says, with the continuing trend of relatively static revenues and rising costs, he still anticipates a “tough budget.”
Some of the major points in the budget are:
-- No broad-based tax increases
-- Improving public safety equipment such as police cruisers, fire trucks, and cardiac monitors
--$5 million to purchase land for a new senior citizens center
-- $300,000 to make repairs to the old Fayette County Courthouse, which remains closed to the public
-- Hiring a Chief Information officer to coordinate technology initiatives
The spending plan represents an overall increase of 2.7% over the 2013 budget.
See the Mayor's complete budget proposal here.