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Mayor's Budget: Senior Center Upgrade, 45 New Positions, $40M In Bonds For Rupp

Josh James

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray laid out his FY 2015 budget proposal Tuesday.

The spending plan uses a five percent increase in revenue to fund public safety improvements, a new senior center, and raises for city workers.

Gray says his budget seeks to address what he called “pent-up needs” that have been on the back burner since the recession hit in 2009. At the top of list were public safety requests – including 35 new police, fire, corrections, and E-911 positions.

The mayor also unveiled plans for a new senior citizen center, which he characterized as long overdue.

"Our seniors are crammed into a 31-year-old facility on Nicholasville Road. It's too small. It's hard to get to. It needs renovation. It just doesn't work," he said.

Lexington Senior Center Rendering

$8 million in the budget would go toward a new facility with a fitness center, educational classrooms, and a dance studio.

For younger Lexingtonians, the budget includes $300,000 for playgrounds, $150,000 for upgrades at Shillito Park, and $100,000 for continuing renovation at the Kentucky Theatre.

Not surprisingly, the biggest question mark in Gray’s budget – funding for the Rupp Arena expansion – came in the form of a request. The proposal calls for the city to authorize a $40 million bond package for the project. But, as council member Kevin Stinnett notes, the real commitment would come two years later.

"It doesn't affect the budget. It's just authority to bond later on in the year, so there's no revenue in this budget to affect other things. That's something to consider in 2016 really," he says.

Gray told reporters while he’s optimistic the Rupp financing plan would be released soon, he said that’s up to University of Kentucky officials, who are still negotiating a lease agreement.

Budget projections show the city with a $313.2 million General Fund balance for 2015.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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