Fayette County

Lexington trims current budget by $2 million. More cuts likely next year.

Mayor Gorton delivers her first ‘State of the City, State of the County’ speech

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton remarks gives her first State of the City/State of the County speech at the Hyatt Regency Downtown on Tuesday.
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Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton remarks gives her first State of the City/State of the County speech at the Hyatt Regency Downtown on Tuesday.

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton is directing all departments to cut spending and slow hiring for some positions as it trims $2 million from its current $370.7 million general fund budget.

That’s a less than one percent cut.

The city’s revenue — from occupational and other taxes — are down a little more than $2.4 million six months into the fiscal year that began July 1. Although expenses are down, the city has to tighten its belt now to make sure it doesn’t have to implement much steeper cuts at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, said Sally Hamilton, the city’s chief administrative officer.

Departments are being asked to cut spending by up to 15 percent in many discretionary accounts. Melissa Lueker, the city’s budget director, said much of those cuts will come from areas such as maintenance, travel and professional service contracts. It’s likely the public won’t notice many of the cuts.

There will be no layoffs, Hamilton said.

The city also is slowing hiring for non-public safety personnel, Hamilton said. That means instead of hiring someone in February, the city will push back hiring until later in the spring, which will save money, she said.

Tyler Scott, Gorton’s chief of staff, said Gorton felt it was prudent to trim spending now rather than wait. Gorton took office in January. She has repeatedly warned that the city’s finances will be tight.

“We are implementing some controls that will give us the ability to keep us whole for the next six months,” Scott said. “We had to do it now, otherwise it would have been too late if we waited.”

In addition, Hamilton said the city is asking departments to cut many discretionary spending accounts for the fiscal year that begins July 1 by 15 percent. Again, those are mostly in areas like travel and maintenance. No layoffs are expected, she said.

Gorton will unveil her budget proposal to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council in early April.

Lexington is not the only city cutting back as tax revenue flattens after years of growth and expenses continue to climb.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said this week that cuts will be needed to overcome a $65 million shortfall.

Beth Musgrave has covered government and politics for the Herald-Leader for more than a decade. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has worked as a reporter in Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois and Washington D.C.
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