Politics & Government

Mayor appoints advisory group to tackle budget challenges

In his State of the Merged Government address on Jan. 25, 2011, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray stressed that smart investments were essential for future quality of life, even in tough economic times.
In his State of the Merged Government address on Jan. 25, 2011, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray stressed that smart investments were essential for future quality of life, even in tough economic times.

Mayor Jim Gray appointed a finance advisory group on Monday to help Lexington deal with short-term budget challenges formulate a long-term financial strategy for the city.

The immediate task facing the city is cutting expenses or finding new sources of revenue to plug a multi-million dollar budget shortfall in the current 2011 fiscal year that ends June 30, Gray said.

Like any good business, the city must focus on reducing costs, Gray said. But Lexington must also find ways to grow the economy in order to make investments that improve the quality-of-life for its citizens, he said.

Serving on the advisory group will be individuals experienced with public finance and budgets, including: John Cubine, who served in the offices of the State Auditor and Attorney General; Bill Farmer, president of United Way of the Bluegrass; Mary Fister, director of fiscal effectiveness at Eastern Kentucky University; Chris Frost, attorney and head of Gray's transition team; Merl Hackbart, University of Kentucky professor of public finance in the Gatton College of Business and Economics; and David Stevens, former Urban County Council member who served on the council's Budget and Finance Committee.

Commissioner of Finance and Administration Jane Driskell will be chairwoman. Geoff Reed, the mayor's senior adviser for policy and government relations, will also be part of the group.

Balancing the current budget will require adjustments between $11 million and $16 million, Gray said. The budget for the next fiscal year, starting July 1, will require more expense reduction.

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