Lexington has a hefty fund balance this year. How will city leaders choose to spend it?
At the end of every fiscal year, the city tallies up the difference between what it budgeted and how much it actually spent – the leftover dollars, if there are any, are what is known as the fund balance. This year, it’s a sizable one at $55.9 million.
The mayor’s plan, which would cover the entire balance, includes funds for capital projects, affordable housing, and improvements to the Dunbar Community center. Council, meanwhile, has its own list.
As for the council, CivicLex's Jillian Riseman says they "want to see some money going to the Fayette Education Foundation, some more renovations and improvements to various parks around the city, Solarize Lexington programs to increase solar energy in the city."
Riseman says all of the proposed projects combined would exceed the fund balance amount, however, so expect to see some eliminated from the list.
Riseman also says new looser rules for accessory dwelling units – think attic and basement conversions or new additions – have been okayed by the planning commission.
"It will now go before council to a vote, with the potential for the General Government and Planning Committee to further consider some of the changes," she explains.
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The Mayor’s Administration has submitted recommendations to Council for how to allocate the money. These recommendations total $55.9 million, or the entire fund balance. Recommended projects include:
- $44.6 million for a Capital Project Construction Fund that could go towards projects like a new City Hall, Senior Center, or public safety facilities. Typically, large capital projects like these would be funded through bonds.
- $2.2 million for a Council Capital Project Fund, allowing Councilmembers to allocate money for capital projects in their districts.
- $5 million in additional money for Lexington’s Affordable Housing Fund.
- $1.5 million for the Dunbar Community Center building improvements.
However, the Mayor’s priorities are just a recommendation, and the decision is ultimately up to Council. Council has submitted a list of projects totaling $19 million they are interested in funding, including:
- $9 million to the Fayette Education Foundation for building a permanent day shelter and permanent homeless transitional housing facility, submitted by CM Fogle.
- $1.2 million for renovating and expanding the Valley Park Building, submitted by CM Reynolds.
- $1 million for supporting Solarize Lexington’s programs to install solar panels on low-income homes, submitted by CM Sheehan.
- $1 million for supporting Phoenix Park improvements including a public restroom, new dog park, and shade structure as a part of the Phoenix Park Reimagined project, submitted by CM LeGris.
- $750k to the Department of Housing Advocacy and Community Development for the Innovate and Sustainable Solutions Fund, submitted by Vice Mayor Wu.