Lexington mayor unveils city budget; prioritizes public safety, affordable housing

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton announced a new budget, totaling $460 million.
Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 5:19 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton announced a new budget, totaling $460 million. It prioritizes public safety and affordable housing.

Gorton’s plan includes $275,000 for 75 additional flock cameras. The city is already installing 25 flock cameras for a pilot program. The cameras snap photos of license plates on vehicles passing by.

Several community groups are upset that officials won’t publicize the locations of these devices. Gorton emphasized the cameras won’t be used to monitor people, but to enhance criminal investigations.

“This is about safety for our neighborhoods. This is all about people and safety for people,” Mayor Gorton said.

She noted her budget included no new police officer positions. The mayor set aside $375,000 for One Lexington, the city’s youth-centered crime prevention program. It includes a new position in her office to support the program.

Gorton said she spoke with every council member to hear what they hoped to see in the budget. Vice Mayor Steve Kay agrees public safety should be a priority.

“I think as the mayor emphasized, what we’re investing in is more people as opposed to simply more officers,” Vice Mayor Kay said.

With rental prices rising, the mayor says she’s focused on creating more affordable housing. She and the council agreed to put $10 million of American Rescue Plan funds toward affordable housing. Her budget provides an additional $2 million toward the effort and creates a $1 million Neighborhood Investment Fund. That fund will allow organizations to turn abandoned properties into affordable housing and help combat gentrification.

Gorton’s budget also includes a 5% raise for non-sworn city workers and art pieces honoring the lives lost to COVID-19 and the city’s 250th birthday in 2025.

City council members will spend the next few weeks reviewing the mayor’s budget. They will make a final vote in June.

Also included in the mayor’s budget is more than $1 million to help fund a new school project in Fayette County. It’ll go toward widening the intersection of Mason Headley at Versailles Road. The school district bought property on that corner for more than $10 million. Fayette County Schools has not said what type of school they’re building, but a district spokesperson said it will be used to expand innovative programs for students.

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