Gorton seeks post-election raises for cops – tax increases, cuts to services likely in coming years

Lexington, KY–In September, Mayor Linda Gorton cautioned the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council that raising police salaries would lead to tax increases or cuts to city services. “In order to have the re-occurring money, we will have to raise revenue or cut the budget,” Gorton said at the September 6 Council meeting, according to the Herald-Leader.

That was before Gorton won reelection in a landslide on November 8, however. On Tuesday, just one week after her electoral win, City Hall released a statement saying Gorton would forge ahead with the proposed raises anyway. “Public safety is my top priority,” Gorton said in the statement. “Our goal is to make public safety salaries more competitive, so we can attract new hires. We are investing to keep our public safety divisions strong.”

Raises will also be offered to fire and corrections sworn personnel in the near future, according to the statement.

The Urban County Council set aside $26 million last month for public safety raises. The money came from a year-end surplus. The mayor is also proposing that the city allow the rehiring of police retirees. The union has also signed off on that plan. The City will have to get the approval of the change from the Kentucky legislature.

Police officers and sergeants will each receive an $8,000 raise under the agreement, which has been approved by union leadership. Lieutenants and the ranks above them will each receive a $5,000 raise.

E-911 telecommunicators, telecommunicator seniors, supervisors, managers, and radio/electronics specialists will each receive a $4,000 annual supplement.

Lexington had a budget surplus last year and adopted a record $452M operating budget for FY23, up 17% compared to $385M in FY22. Much of that increase came from one-time federal COVID relief funds that will not be available in future years.