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Record-breaking Lexington budget moves forward, while detractors foresee potential for layoffs and tax increases

Josh James

Lexington's Urban County Council is pressing forward with a budget that capitalizes on federal pandemic relief dollars and a re-energized economy, but some on the council worry the spending plan overshoots the mark

With a unique combination of economic factors allowing for a robust budget this year, Mayor Linda Gorton was able to announce what she called a "bold" and "historic" spending plan with raises for city employees and no tax increases.

But skeptics say the city is using one-time dollars for projects and personnel that will require ongoing spending. Councilman David Kloiber, who is running against Mayor Gorton this fall, warned that the spending could come back to haunt the city.

"This is the largest budget we've ever had. I am very concerned that we are setting a precedent we will not be able to live up to... I believe this will lead to inevitable furloughs, layoffs, and possible tax increases."
Councilman and mayoral candidate David Kloiber

Vice Mayor Steve Kay, who voted for budget, said the city has used one-time dollars to do "a lot of catch up" — including repairs and maintenance on city buildings and maintaining public safety fleets. As for the dollar amounts, he had this reminder for his colleagues.

"In the entire process, although some people believe that the budget is excessive at one point or another, with minor exception, council members have not offered cuts to the mayor's budget," Kay said.

The vice mayor went on to say the council has listened to the community and crafted a budget that reflects its values.

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.