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Gray Talks City Budget, Rupp Update in State of Merged Government Address

By Brenna Angel


LEXINGTON, Ky. – Lexington Mayor Jim Gray delivered his second State of the Merged Government address Tuesday before a large crowd at the Lexington Center. He touched on a variety of issues, including job creation, the Rupp Arena task force, and government efficiency.

Gray says revenues are slowly starting to rise, but but they aren't keeping pace with government expenses.

"We must understand that when it comes to cutting the city's budget further, it's important for us to recognize that we have very few options left outside of layoffs."

One way the mayor says Lexington can still improve its financial standing is by fixing the pension system for police and firefighters. Lexington is the only city in Kentucky to operate its own pension plan for public safety workers, but changes to the system must be approved by the General Assembly in Frankfort. Gray urged state lawmakers not to "bypass Lexington's growing crisis."

As he often does, Gray included a little history in his speech, noting that Lexington was settled in 1775, and he joked that just a couple years later Rupp Arena was built. (Rupp actually opened in 1976.)

Gray used his state of the merged government address to praise the work of the Rupp task force he appointed nearly a year ago. He also unveiled a new picture of what the arena's proposed interior would look like during a UK basketball game.

"It represents 800 to 1,000 new Lower Arena seats. It includes what's called in the industry precision demolition' and reconstruction of the Upper Arena with all chair-back seats."

The design would also include a new eight-sided scoreboard, premium seating, and more restrooms.

Gray says he doesn't want to raise false expectations, but emphasized that he believes it's important to make investments to put Lexington on the level of cities like Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas. The Rupp Arena Task Force will issue its final report to the public next Tuesday.