Mayor proposes layoffs for city

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray proposed a FY12 general fund budget that includes layoffs and would close two city pools and a golf course. The entire proposed budget is a $271 million spending plan.

Mayor Gray says, if revenue projections are accurate, this will be the fourth year in a row general fund receipts have declined or been flat. Prior to FY 09, Gray says there is only one other year in the government’s history in which general fund revenue failed to grow, year-over-year.

The proposed budget does not include any new taxes but does include a new fee for emergency medical service. The mayor also proposes laying off 28 employees.

Mayor Gray says of the layoffs, "It's important for us to be sympathetic to those affected. It's also important to be responsible to the institution, to the government, and to the taxpayers, who expect us to be financially responsible."

The layoffs would be in Government Communications (7), Parks (5), Social Services (5) and Building Security (11). Mayor Gray says the layoffs will save Lexington $1 million per year in general fund.

Also being proposed is a plan to take a step toward a cost-of-service model in employee health care. The mayor says that will cut a projected $3.5 million in employee health care in 2012.

While there are no proposed layoffs in police or fire, the mayor is advocating a hiring freeze. He projects savings of $5.6 million in collective bargaining contracts, plus $3.1 million cut through no unscheduled overtime in fire, no position vacancies, other personnel savings and no fire station brown-outs.

The mayor is also proposing, through layoffs, the abolishment of 215 unfilled or vacant positions. He says that, along with other savings, will reduce the annual general fund personnel costs by $11.8 million. With these changes, city hall will have a workforce of 2,835 budgeted jobs, the lowest since 1999.

Under the mayor's proposed budget the city's commissioners and the mayor’s senior staff will also have a two-week furlough. Mayor Gray is proposing suspending his salary for six months.

Also included in his plan is the closure of two city pools, Berry Hill and Constitution. He would also close all city pools on Mondays. The mayor also wants to close Meadowbrook Golf Course, which is office says has the lowest attendance among city golf courses. The mayor says Meadowbrook loses approximately $80,000 a year.

The mayor's plan does provide approximately $30 million to police/fire pension fund. He says it is the only expenditure that adds to debt.

It will also give $60,000 to parks to ensure they are accessible to all citizens and use $850,000 to correct what the mayor calls necessary life-safety issues at the Kentucky Theatre, the Phoenix Building and Police headquarters by improving elevators and fire protection.

He also intends to provide $3 million in road resurfacing through state and local funds and $600,000 to the city’s rainy day fund.

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