Council Works Toward Finalizing City Budget This Week

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On Tuesday, May 28th at 10am and Thursday, May 30th at 1pm in Council Chambers, Councilmembers will host two Committee of the Whole (COW) meetings to discuss Link recommendations for the Mayor’s Proposed Budget!

What do Links want to add to the Budget?

At the Budget COWs, Councilmembers will review recommendations from Links and individual Councilmember requests that have been submitted for consideration.

Some notable recommendations include:

  • Environmental Quality and Public Works Link: $150,000 to update the Planting Manual.

  • Finance, Economic Development, and Planning Link: $2.2 million to the Public Infrastructure Program Fund.

  • Public Safety and Social Services Link: Two new positions in the Lexington Police Department’s Real-Time Intelligence Center (RTIC), an RTIC Analyst and RTIC Supervisor.

    • The RTIC uses the FUSUS platform that integrates LPD’s various technologies — including security cameras, traffic cameras, and Flock cameras.

  • Councilmember Hannah LeGris: $500,000 for a Downtown Area Master Plan.

  • Councilmember James Brown: $300,000 to be added to the Economic Contingency Fund.The Economic Contingency Fund exists as a reserve that LFUCG can draw from in the event of an economic downturn. LFUCG tries to maintain an Economic Contingency balance of 10% of the previous year’s General Fund.

Altogether, Link recommendations add up to $3.18 million in additional costs to the General Fund; including individual Councilmembers’ requests, that total jumps to $4.67 million.

What to expect in Budget COW Discussions

While the Mayor’s Proposed Budget is the largest in Lexington’s history with a $531.8 million General Fund, there are a few factors that make this budget more restrictive than recent post-COVID years:

  • All American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds have been allocated, meaning a significant resource in recent budgets is no longer available.

  • New ordinances passed by Council require 1% and .375% of the General Fund to go to the Affordable Housing Fund and the Homelessness Prevention and Intervention Fund, respectively.

  • Revenue continues to grow for Lexington, but at a slower pace than seen from 2021-2023. Signs indicate that revenue from Payroll Withholding and Net Profits taxes — the City’s largest revenue sources — will continue to grow at a healthy but modest pace over the next several years.

All of these factors together mean that this budget, while being the largest in Lexington’s history, is significantly tighter than budgets from the past few years. In the COW meetings, Councilmembers will have difficult negotiations over which recommendations should be funded and how.

In past Budget cycles, Links were tasked with submitting financial plans on how they would fund each of their requests. This year, Budget Chair James Brown chose not to require Links to determine funding sources for their requests. Funding plans for any requests added to the budget will be discussed in the COW meetings and/or developed in collaboration with the Mayor’s Administration.

  • Some Links have suggested cross-funding new positions by drawing some money from the General Fund and some money from restricted funds such as the Water Quality and Urban Services Fund. Restricted funds can only be used on projects/positions related to the area the funds serve, so not all positions or projects can be cross-funded this way.

  • Last October, Council allocated $36 million from the Fund Balance to create a new Capital Reserve Fund. This Fund was proposed by the Mayor’s Administration to fund large-scale projects such as a new City Hall. However, Council could choose to draw from the Fund to invest in capital projects recommended by Links or individual Councilmembers if they wish.

You can view the meeting packet for Tuesday’s Budget COW meeting here.

If you want to learn more about the Mayor’s Proposed Budget, or the Budgeting process in General, you can head to our Budget Explainer page!

Today’s Budget COW will be held at 10am in Council Chambers. Thursday, May 30th’s Budget COW will be held in Council Chambers at 1pm. You can attend either meeting in-person or watch them live on LexTV.

Republished from CivicLex.

CivicLex’s work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

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