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Lexington mayor prioritizes federal funding based on ‘community needs’ and ‘city’s financial stability’

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton has set her priorities for how federal money will be spent following last week’s announcement by Gov. Andy Beshear that Kentucky cities will receive funding for expenditures related to the coronavirus.

During a press conference at Lexington City Hall, Gorton laid out her recommendations for how the money should be spent. “Funding for the social services agencies we have supported in the past, restoring funds for affordable housing, restoring funds for homelessness initiatives and replenishing our city’s rainy day fund,” she said.

Linda Gorton

She said her priorities “are based on community needs and some on the city’s financial stability. It’s important to do both: provide for critical services and ensure our city remains on a sustainable path financially. We must take a fiscally responsible approach, rather than take more money out of our rainy day fund.”

Gorton noted the budget she proposed in April “made cuts that hurt people who are in need of our help. The budget is based on a $40 million shortfall in revenue predicted for next year. Of course, COVID-related costs are increasing every day.”

She said the city’s financial picture will continue to change. “On April 28 when I presented my budget proposal, I felt our budget would go through several revisions, because of the upheaval of this pandemic. And that’s exactly what’s happening.”

Lexington’s Urban County Council will have the final word on how the federal dollars will be spent and are continuing to debate changes to the proposed budget, she said.

“This federal funding gives me another reason to be optimistic about our future,” Gorton said. “As difficult as these past few weeks have been, I want our citizens to know there are plenty of reasons to have hope. I have confidence in Lexington’s economy. We have every reason to believe it will recover and that the recovery will be swift.”

It is unclear how much federal funding the city will receive, or if Congress and President Donald Trump will approve another infusion of money for state and local governments.

The council is expected to take its first vote on the budget June 2. It goes into effect July 1.

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