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Gray Delivers 2013 State of the Merged Government

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Creating new jobs, running government efficiently, and thinking about big ideas for Lexington were the major themes of Mayor Jim Gray’s State of the Merged Government address. The annual speech was delivered Tuesday at the downtown Hyatt.

Gray started his remarks with a re-cap of last week’s announcement that the city has reached an agreement with public safety unions to shore up the police and firefighter pension fund.

“We will not allow this under-funding condition to occur again. The city will now write into law that, regardless of who is mayor, regardless of who is on the Council, Lexington will fully fund the annual required contribution.”

That agreement must still be voted on by union members and the state legislature.

Some of the loudest applause during the 35 minute speech came when Mayor Gray told the story of 6-year-old Lilli Chamblen, who sent money in support of a proposal to bring Town Branch Creek back to the downtown surface.

“Here is Lilli’s sack full of change!”Gray said as has he held up a plastic bag filled with coins.

Town Branch Commons was one of the of the “big ideas” highlighted in the speech, which also focused on creating jobs.  With 6% unemployment, Gray told reporters that Lexington is better off than a lot of cities, but still has work to do.

“We’re still double the unemployment that we were before the recession. So there’s no time to be casual, there’s no time to relax.”